When it comes to collecting the dandelion flowers, pick only where you know the plants haven't been exposed to chemicals (including weed killers). Most parks use chemicals to control weeds, and dandelions growing along the roadside "soak up" nearby pollution, so I suggest looking in wild fields or your own yard.
My children and I picked enough dandelion flowers from our front yard to fill a medium sized mixing bowl. It took us less than 5 minutes. Then I dumped the flowers into a colander and washed away any bugs and dirt. I let them drain a bit, then I removed the yellow petals from the green part of the flower. It took me perhaps a 50 minutes to pinch those petals away. Another time, I'll get the kids to help me and it will go much faster.
What You Need:
4 cups dandelion petals
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla extract)
6 tablespoons powdered pectin (I used Ball's "Class RealFruit Pectin")
Boiling water bath canner
Lids and rings
Funnel (optional but very helpful)
Small saucepan (for simmering the lids)
Plastic mixing spoon
Wire cooling rack or towels
How to Do It:
1. Review the guidelines for using a boiling water bath canner. Fill the canner and place clean jars inside it. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Keep the jars in the canner and the water in the canner hot. Place the lids in the small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
3. Place a bowl on the counter or in the sink and set a fine strainer over it. Carefully pour the dandelion petal mixture through the strainer. Press down on the petals with the back of a spoon in order to extract as much of the golden liquid as possible. Discard the petals. (Don't put them down a garbage disposal because they form a tight clump that might clog it). Thoroughly clean the strainer, removing any petals that stick to it.
5. Clean the pot so there are no petals or debris in it. With a clean measuring cup, measure out 3 cups of the dandelion liquid and place it in the pot. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil that can't be stirred down with a spoon. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
6. Bring the mixture to a full boil and, stirring constantly, boil hard for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the stove.
7. Ladle the jelly into hot jelly jars, leaving about 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp, clean towel. Place the lids on the jars and make the screwbands fingertip tight.
8. If desired, measure out another 3 cups of dandelion petal liquid and repeat steps 6 through 8. (If you try to double the recipe and use all the dandelion liquid at once, the jelly may be too runny.) Process jars for 10 minutes* in a boiling bath canner.
Every 3 cups of petal liquid makes about 4 pints of jelly.
* If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.
NOTES: Any remaining dandelion petal liquid can be refrigerated for use in teas. Or, pour into ice cube trays and freeze for iced tea.
Some dandelion jelly recipes call for pouring the jelly into sterile jars and sealing without processing in a hot water bath canner. However, this increases the risk of food poisoning and is no longer a recommended practice.
For more information about harvesting and using dandelions, see my previous posts:
"How to Make Dandelion Tea"
"Eating Dandelion Flowers"
"Teaching Children to Forage" (with dandelion cookie recipe)
Want to learn more about eating and cooking with dandelions? Check out The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook!