Cottage Flower Jelly

This recipe uses an infusion of fresh-plucked flowers to make an exceptionally sweet floral jelly- a small-batch recipe and no real canning involved, so it’s an easy one for beginners!

Jars of jelly, stacked along a weathered porch rail. A single rose and a little bundle of honeysuckle flowers sit in the lower left corner of the picture.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of yellow Japanese honeysuckle flowers
  • 1/2 cup of rose petals
  • 1/2 cup of elderflowers
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz liquid pectin
  • Scale (to weigh pectin)


Start by collecting your flowers from unsprayed, healthy plants. A lot of flowers. So many flowers. You will need more than you think at first glance, because every one of these flowers needs to be prepared before we can use them.

Two rose petals side-by-side. One has the white tip properly cut off- the other is whole.
Rose petal on the left – ready to use. Rose petal on the right still has the white end on it.

Prepare the rose petals by snipping the white tips off- they’re bitter, and it’ll show in the jelly if they’re left. It’s not much, just the tip. Check out the picture for a visual on how much needs to go. As you go through them, discard withered, unhealthy petals. Set un-bittered petals aside.

Elderflowers need to be completely removed from the stem to use. Gently pull flowers from the umbels- they should easily pull free, leaving behind their centers on the stems, leaving you with little white flowers with a circle missing in the middle. Your fingers will get covered in pollen. See video for a visual on how to do this.

Two honeysuckle flowers. One has a small green tip at the base of the flower. The other does not.
The honeysuckle flower on the bottom is ready to use; the one above is not. Pop off the little green caps at the base of the flower before using, unless you want a bitter jelly.

I pick the honeysuckle last of all, because it likes to wilt fast. The honeysuckle’s the easiest to prepare- just pop off the the little green tip at the base of the flower with a fingernail. They’ll be bitter otherwise. Make sure not to break the stem, and to use whole flowers only, since we don’t want to lose that honeysuckle nectar!

Four red-capped gnomes assist in flower collection. One gnome is holding a walnut shell with elderflowers in it, standing next to a wheelbarrow full of the same. A pair of gnome twins are carrying a small bowl of rose petals to a glass pitcher.

Dump all your prepared flowers in a fine strainer and give them a quick rinse, then shift them to a glass pitcher or bowl and set aside.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and pour it over your flowers to start an infusion. It’ll take 12 hours or overnight to be ready, so let it cool down some before transferring it to a refrigerator to wait.

An infusion of rose petals, elderflowers, and honeysuckle flowers in a glass pitcher.

In the morning (or after 12 hours have passed), remove the infusion from the refrigerator and strain the liquid into another bowl, disposing of the spent plant matter. The infusion will be a very unpromising shade of brown. This will change shortly.

Before you start cooking:

This recipe calls for liquid pectin. If you don’t have liquid pectin, you can make your own out of a box of powdered pectin. The recipe I personally use to do this is from Countryfarm-Lifestyles. If making your own pectin, do so before starting to make the jelly.

Since the pectin is the only ingredient that needs to be weighed, go ahead and do this before even starting the recipe to save yourself some scrambling. Trying to keep up a constant stir on a boiling pot with one hand while trying to weigh out the last ingredient you need with the other requires more ambidextrousness than I, personally, like to deal with.

Finally, whatever kind of jar you chose to store your jelly in needs to be sterile and warm- cold glass will shatter. I shamelessly cheat by putting a load of jars in the dishwasher, timing my jelly-making to be ready to ladle out so it coincides with the jars still being hot from the washing.

Recipe Instructions:

To make the jelly, pull out a medium-sized pot. Measure out 1 cup of your infusion- the rest is extra, and we won’t need it, so set it aside- pour in into the pot, and add your sugar. I like to give it a quick mix here, then add in the lemon juice.

When the lemon juice is added, the infusion will begin to swiftly change color. It can turn anything between a peachy tone to a rosy pink depending on a large number of factors. So many factors. If you manage to get your jelly to turn out the same color in every batch I both fear and envy your power.

A whisk partially in a pot of dusky-rose tinted liquid.

Anyway, turn your burner on to medium heat. We want to bring this sugary concoction to a lively boil that doesn’t stop or vanish when stirred, called a hard boil. Speaking of stirring- keep up a constant stir, even before you start seeing bubbles. Definitely after you start seeing bubbles, too.

As soon as you’ve got your hard boil bubbling away, add in the pectin, and set a timer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

This is the part where your pot will start to resemble a seething cauldron of mysterious potion. Meaning, of course, a mysterious foaming liquid constantly threatening to spill over the sides of the pot.

The seething beast of foam and bubbles, jelly boiling merrily away in a silver pot.
If you’re using a medium-sized pot you’re probably fine though.

Only constant stirring, blowing lightly on the surface of the brew, and turning the heat down slightly (at need) will appease this creature of froth and sugar.

Remove from heat after the two minutes are up. Ladle into sterilized, warm glass jars, and let cool. Your jelly can fall into a range of colors, and you’ll be able to see just what you ended up with once it’s been jarred.

Three jars of jelly, two pink, one orange, with the sunlight slanting through.
Same jelly, made on two different days.

Store in the refrigerator. Use within three weeks.


  • If flowers aren’t your thing and this recipe turns out too sweet for you, bump the amount of lemon juice from 2 tbsp to 3 tbsp; you’ll end up with a very light, gently sweet lemon flavored jelly.

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