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SEA BRIGHT: INSPIRATION AMONG THE WEEDS

holly-hindin-051715-500x375-2198475Holly Hindin, owner of Holly Jolly Jams. Below, her dandelion jelly being readied for sale. (Photo above by John T. Ward; others by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

dandelion-jelly-001-165x220-6876921Next time you find yourself lamenting a dandelion-dotted lawn, consider the culinary inspiration a jelly chef found in those annoying perennials.

Kyle Goedde sells seasonal vegetables grown at Harvest Moon Farm in Hillsborough at the Sea Bright Farmers Market every Thursday in summer. Next to his booth, Fair Havenite Holly Hindin, of Holly Jolly Jams, sells jams and jellies. Getting off to a chilly and slow start, they had plenty of down time to chat.

052415-hollyjollyjam-500x272-1187220Holly Hindin sells her jams and jellies at the Red Bank Farmers Market on Sundays and Sea Bright Farmers Market on Thursdays. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Eyeing a fresh bunch of organic dandelion greens, Hindin had a lightbulb moment.

“What happens to the flowers if they’re only selling the greens?” she wondered. Goedde offered her the flower portion of the weeds to bring back to her kitchen for experimentation.

“The petals themselves aren’t bitter, but the greens are, and are commonly used in cooking, from what I understand,” Hindin says.

To make a jelly out of these common lawn weeds, you first and foremost must find them uncontaminated. There can be no lawn chemicals used on or near the area where they are harvested.

The jelly creation is somewhat labor intensive.

“For this particular jelly, you have to remove as much of the green part as possible, leaving only the petals,” Hindin explains. “Then you pour boiling water over the petals and let it sit over night at room temperature, almost like steeping tea. After 24 hours, you remove the petals, using a strainer and cheesecloth. From this point you follow the normal jelly-making process.”

The lid of the beautifully translucent jar of dandelion jelly lists the ingredients; dandelions, lemon juice, sugar and pectin. But these weeds carry healthful properties too: Vitamins A, B complex and C, iron, potassium and zinc.

How does it taste? Lightly herbaceous, the jelly has a delicate and sweet flavor that is somewhat reminiscent of chamomile tea. It’s a surprising change of flavor for the typical PB&J sandwich, but also makes a fantastic glaze for cooked carrots and beets.

Aa jarful of dandelion jelly was born of unexpected, weedy motivation.

Set amid the display of Hindin’s more assertive recipes such as her Cherry Habanero Jam and Jalapeno Jelly, all selling for $7 each, the Dandelion Jelly – as pretty as the light shining through a stained glass window – is a more old-fashioned, a nod to simpler, sweeter days. We may be seeing more condiments of this kind from Hindin’s kitchen.

“Other jellies are made using the same process, including violet, lilac, honeysuckle, and mint,” she says. “I only carry mint, but am curious to try others at some point.”

This week at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market, “Gutsy Gourmet” Rachel Weston will offer samples of a refreshing Rhubarb, Rose Petal and Pink Peppercorn Spritzer as she toasts the good health benefits of using local, seasonal ingredients. The market is held each Thursday in summer from 2 to 7 p.m. in the municipal parking lot on Ocean Avenue.

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