Lilac Jelly

Photo by Donna

A friend was coming by midday Thursday to introduce herself.  She comments here often, runs a bakery in Homer, Alaska, and was in Cleveland to visit friends, another author and Alaskan native, whose books I know and admire.  It was a glorious fall day, crisp and bright, but I had a million things to do and had only a short time to spend. In such circs, its being midday and time for a bite, I ran to Baricelli Inn for some of Paul Minnillo's great cheese.  Paul was out of Epoisses, my favorite of the stinky cheeses, but he recommended some Tomme Crayeuse, which had just come in, a rich earthy acidic raw cows' milk cheese from the French Alps. 

That, some Camenbert, a glass of wine and some bread from On the Rise bakery was all we needed for a midday meal.

Our new friend brought something else.  Some lilac jelly she'd made, inspired by the enormously fragrant lilacs that come late in Alaska.  I like to drizzle cheese with some truffled honey that materialized in our kitchen a while back. But Carri's sweet lilac jelly was the perfect condiment for the nicely acidic Tommee and the creamy Camenbert.

The light slanted in on the front porch where we talked and ate. Soon it was time to get on with the day, but the cluttered board so inspired Donna, she had to photograph the remnants of the perfect lunch on a fall weekday afternoon.

And here's Carri's recipe for the lilac jelly, which she posted about on her blog when she made it. It's a great way to use any fragrant petals that may inspire you.

Carri's Lilac Jelly

2 1/2 cups steeping medium, this can be pear juice (what I used) apple juice or white wine (or Champagne!)
2 cups fresh petals
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 ounces of liquid pectin
(I wish the true petal color came out in the steeping liquid, but it did not!  Add a few drops of red wine at the end for color if you wish.)

Bring steeping liquid to scalding and add petals. Take off heat and stir. let cool to room temp. Strain.

Add 2 cups of steeping liquid to sugar and lemon and bring to boil in medium sauce pan over high heat.
When sugar is completely dissolved and mixture has reached a rolling boil, add pectin. Return to boil for one minute.

Ladle into hot jars and put on sterilized lids.


25 Wonderful responses to “Lilac Jelly and a Perfect Fall Lunch”

  • Frank Mitchell

    Not to to distract from your jelly but whats up with the Dave Mathews Band. It automatically plays when the front page loads it loud and intrusive. On further investigation it appears to only be a problem with Chrome.

  • mike pardsu

    I’m sure it wsa great stuff, but honestly – sounds like something you and Bourdain should have had for “afternoon tea” at Mohonk.

    How’re the olives?

  • carri

    It’s true Pardus, the lilac jelly is pretty girly stuff, but on the Tome… with that amazing baguette, in the sun, on Ruhlman’s porch and the only snark coming from the dog barking at the mailman, t’was a meal to remember…BTW, how was that potluck?

  • Rhonda

    I am so happy to see this post today.

    Carri, I am a great admirer of your work.

    Your Lilac Jelly looks exquisite and right up my alley. I will definitely take note of this recipe.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Bob Y

    I very much enjoy this blog, and your books, but is this blog turning into a photo blog? I have great interest in food and cooking, but no interest whatsoever in photography. Lately, we seem to have as much a photo lesson as recipes and thoughts on food. Its getting to be annoying.

  • ruhlman

    bob, and others who have mentioned this issue. Because of a typepad issue, all of donna’s posts are going out on my rss feed. i don’t mean to bombard those with no interest in photography with donna’s posts, nor does she. were working of fixing the problem. thanks for your patience!

    Pardus, the olives are out of the lye and in fresh water now. eager to get them in the brine. thanks for your help.

  • Rhonda

    Bob, I disagree.

    I, personally, and I suspect many others, eat with their eyes first, their nose second and their mouth third.

    I love Donna’s photography. It inspires and invigorates me.

    They go hand in hand and I absolutely could not imagine this blog without the two intertwined.

  • Rhonda


    I just seen Michael’s explanation of what you may be receiving on RSS feed.

    For some, inexplicable and wonderful reason, my feeds from both Michael and Donna’s blog has remained separate.

    Now, I understand what you are saying.


  • Maurita Plouff

    Hm, another late spring garden technique. I make violet syrup, myself, with the prolific blossoms of the plant that is pretty much a weed in my garden. Now I’ll try lilac jam!

  • carri

    Maurita…yes, I’m going to do pansy syrup! I still have some fragrant ones blooming on my porch…how fun! Rhonda, thanks for your kind words!

  • Victoria

    Donna’s photograph is beautiful.

    I have lilacs in the spring so next year I am going to make Carri’s Flower Jelly with it.

    Thanks for this lovely post.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Bob Y: does not a good post have great pictures? Isn’t there always something to learn if not from one cook to another then from one photo to another? To me, both are important elements of this blog: it just so happens that michael is lucky enough not to have pay in dollars and cents for his pictures (I’m sure he pays in many other ways)

    And how fortunate are we that we get to read not just an interesting food blog but one that is highlighted by absolute special pictures.

    Every post is a lesson in one form or another

    (can u tell i am a fan?)

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    So? What did the lilac jelly actually taste like. More than just sweet? Does it smell? Is the smell the key to a sense of taste in something so subtle? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • carri

    Paul…truly, it tasted like lilacs smell, and after a moment in your mouth it winds it’s way up the back of your throat to your nose, my daughter likened it to smelling the lilacs backward.

  • Max

    I’ve been lurking here for a while, but this post knocked my socks off. I’ve never heard of Lilac jelly before. I can’t wait to make this for my wife, a true jellyfile.

    Also, picture is amazing.

  • Eric

    A couple questions.

    The recipie says “2 cups fresh petals”, what do you have to do to prepare the petals? Do you steep the whole flower head or pick off the petals individually? Also, is it 2 “packed” cups or loose?

  • Carri

    Eric, I pull the petals completely free of all attachments, and while i didn’t ‘pack’ them, they were lightly pressed. A weight would be good here instead…:) I’ll come up with one.

  • Laura

    I’ve always wondered how to make flower scented jellies…thanks so much for the lovely recipe, and the lovely photo!

  • luis

    This is what makes this blog such tuff blog to stay away from….
    Ruhlman I have been kicking around the jelly thing forever.. got the jars… read the books etc.. but you motivate me into trying things. Lilac..fine but I am using whatever is within reach and I am by gosh making me some jelly soon. Outstanding Ruhlman.

  • Carri

    Hey Rick…That’s actually a photo of fireweed, sorry for the confusion! The variety I used is actually different than one you would find in the midwest…it is a canadian, similar to a James McFarland, but this one’s called ‘Isabella’ Long thraoted light pink blossom’s…very fragrant.

  • lindsey

    That sounds so lovely! Thanks, Carri and Michael, for sharing. Can’t wait til it blooms again. Maybe peony jelly, for me?

  • r4 dsi

    Lilac Jelly is my favorite flavor of the jelly.I am always use this jelly in my breakfast as well as in lunch also with bread.I say to you that you have also try it’s test.