Preserves, Conserves, Jams and Jellies

Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.
W. H. Auden

When I saw the title of Robin’s Blog today – Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve – I thought we were about to get a recipe for making a preserve of wildflowers.  However, this was not to be.  Instead, we were shown wonderful photos of this wildflower preserve.  Of course, I then had to go to the website to find out more about this wonderland.

Shenksferry flowers

Picture from the website.

After that, I remembered that my late husband’s maiden aunts used to make wildflower preserves or jellies.  So I hunted in one of their tattered books that I inherited when the second one died, and found this:


2 cups flower petals (or fresh young herb leaves)
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups peeled and chopped apples (for pectin) or 600 oz liquid pectin (2 packages) or equivalent powder*

Note – I added the pectin which wouldn’t have been available commercially when the aunts were making jam or jelly.  They would have had to stand over the pot of boiling petals stirring, stirring until the desired consistency was achieved.  Hot, tiring work.  It’s so much easier now.


The basic recipe is to use the same amount of water and flower/fruit material.

In a small stainless saucepan, bring the flower petals or fruit to boil in the water.  Cover and let this sit preferably overnight or for at least  several hours. Strain, squeezing out all the water into the saucepan. Bring the water to a boil with the lemon juice and stir in the sugar until all is well dissolved.  This is where they would then have had to stand and stir for however long it took for the jelly to thicken.  There is no note of this in the cook book. 

Stir in the pectin and boil hard for two minutes. Pour into hot, sterilized jam jars. Put into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.. Store at room temperature.”

Obviously, there was no refrigeration in the early 1900s but in the unlikely event that I were to make this today, I would refrigerate the  preserve/jelly/jam  once the jar is opened.

And then I found this gem in my old copy of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book.

Mrs Beeton's cookery book

1894 Edition – Cost One shilling

“Carrot Jam to imitate Apricot Preserve

Ingredients –  Carrots; to every pound carrot pulp allow 1 lb (1 pound) pounded sugar, the grated rind of 1 lemon, the strained juice of 2, 6 chopped bitter almonds, 2 tablespoons brandy.

Mode – Select young carrots; wash and scrape, cut into round pieces, put them into a saucepan with water to cover, and simmer until soft; then beat them through a sieve.  Put the pulp into a preserving pan with the sugar and boiled for 5 minutes stirring and skimming all the time.

When cold add the lemon-rind and juice, almonds and brandy; mix well with the jam; then put into pots well covered and keep in a dry place.  The brandy may be omitted, but the preserve will then not keep; with the brandy it will remain good for months.

Time – about 3/4 hour to boil the carrots; 5 minutes to simmer the pulp. And here is the best part – Average Cost – 1s 2d (one shilling and two pennies) for 1 lb of pulp with the other ingredients in proportion.  Sufficient to fill 3 pots.  Seasonable from July to December.”

Note the words in italics are mine.

But what a mine of information this little book is turning out to beBut overall I think/know I prefer to buy my preserves ready-made.

Crab apple jelly

Jelly – From my larder

And for those of you who like me prefer to spend their time in other pursuits

“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”
Bette Davis 1908 – 1989 American actress

Bottle of Champagne



22 responses to “Preserves, Conserves, Jams and Jellies

  1. I never thought of flowers for preserves but like you will buy mine and pop that champagne cork! Very interesting info though!


    • My husband’s family were farmers and so the daughters unmarried, put up preserves etc when the produce was in season. I was born and brought up in London and thought that jam and fruit came in either jars or jams. Bring on the champagne.


  2. Here in Texas there are various native plants whose berries people have turned into jam. Chief among them are the mustang grape and agarita (a holly-like shrub). The petals of a few of our native species of flowers are edible, but I haven’t found any that are tasty.

    Steve Schwartzman


    • I agree – I don’t find flowers particularly attractive as food. I prefer them in the garden or arranged in a vase in the house. Thanks for the comment. Am off to look at your blog now.


  3. Flower preserves? This is all new to me, too. I remember my mom working tomatoes through a sieve. This sounds like a lot of work. We are so blessed to go to the market and buy it ready made. Though I doubt we’ll find any made from flowers–or carrots, for that matter.


    • Yes I am so glad that I can go out and buy the preserves. I included the carrot recipe because I found it so very odd. I guess even way back then people were budget conscious.


  4. Lovely, Judith! And the first recipe reminds me of a rose petal preserve I used to buy (not sure I’d have the patience to make it) that was absolutely wonderful – scent, flavour, appearance. Unfortunately very expensive though, so I only had a couple of jars over a year or so.

    There’s something for you in my current post here: Blog Amnesty Award… sort of.


  5. I’ve never ventured into jam or jelly-making…I think I’m worried about all that jar-sterilizing!

    Luckily, my mother-in-law makes good jam!



  6. jacquelincangro

    Your post came at an opportune time, as I was just reading an article about canning as a way to preserve bountiful harvests so that nothing goes to waste. But I’ve never heard of preserving flowers in this way. I wonder what it tastes like. I think I’ll stick to strawberry! 🙂


  7. Lovely… and I love the pictures you added to the mix. 🙂


  8. I have seen flower preserves, jams, and jellies (jelly is another word I think where we have differences in our usage), but they were either dandelion or violet. I’ve tried making preserves, but like you, I prefer to buy them ready made. 🙂


  9. This sounds devine! And what a treasure to have that old book!


  10. Yum, yum, yum! And what a lovely edition of Mrs Beeton’s! Do check out our post: Thanks!


    • The book is old and tattered and has a name in the front of somebody I have never heard of. And the date on the frontispiece is 1894. It is a treasured belonging and has travelled with me around the world (literally) three times.
      I went over to your blog and will go back to read some more. 🙂


  11. Pingback: It’s all English – isn’t it? | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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