Texas Living

Try These Texas Backyard Jellies

By Celia Bryan-Brown 9.5.18

Jalapeño pepper jelly was invented in Lake Jackson in 1978. Sometimes adding a Texas twist to a beloved food means spicing it up; sometimes it could simply mean finding something in your own backyard.

The process of crushing, boiling, sieving, and crystallizing fruit into jellies and jams is a mixture of theater, myth, and math. The technique dates back to ancient Greece, where honey was used to preserve quinces, and has prevailed ever since as a handy (and delicious) way to preserve fruits.

If you enjoy whipping up sweets and tinkering with new flavors on a Sunday afternoon, it’s time to flex your jam-making abilities. Don’t be daunted: It’s easier than it looks and so much more fun than store-bought, especially when you’re using your own seasonal ingredients. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Dandelion Jelly

Do you see the dandelions in your lawn as pretty or pesky? They may be more useful than you think. Encourage the little ones to pick the flowers — you’ll need around 4 cups of dandelion heads to make this delicate, honey-flavored jelly. A real treat with homemade biscuits or as a filler for sponge cake. Try this recipe.

Texas jellies - dandelion

Blackberry and Jalapeño Jelly

We’re used to using our abundance of jalapeños and other chili peppers fresh or pickled. But they have great potential in a slightly more out-there jelly. Alongside wild blackberries, jalapeños give a sophisticated depth and heat that’s unbeatable. Pair with both sweet and savory dishes. Try this recipe.

Texas jellies - blackberry and jalepeno

Tomato Jam

Tomatoes also make a fantastic jam that you won’t commonly find in your local store. With our hot climate, tomatoes are abundant and not too difficult to grow. This jam will bring a brilliant acidic sweetness to your barbecue. Try this recipe.

Texas jellies - tomato jam

Classic Texas Peach Preserves

It’s hard to beat a Texas peach. Enjoy on cinnamon toast or spooned over ice creamTry this recipe.

Texas jellies

Quince and Pear Jam

Quinces may sound a little unfamiliar, but you can sometimes find them in larger supermarkets. They’re extremely high in pectin, which jam-makers will know makes it a great base for jellies of all flavors. Plus, you get to skip the chore of adding pectin to your preserves. Venture out to pick a few pears this season. They’ll pair nicely with the versatile flavor of quince for an instant fall favorite. Try this recipe.

For more local recipe inspiration, try reinventing the squash.

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