Farm To Table | Sauces / Dips / Dressings

Dogwood Jelly

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This Dogwood Jelly is made with the edible fruit of the Kousa dogwood tree. It is a bit floral and has a delicious, slightly tart flavor.

Jars of dogwood jelly with dogwood leaves in the backgroundPin
Dogwood Jelly

What are dogwood trees?

Dogwoods, commonly referred to as cornels, are a fairly large genus that consists of small trees and shrubs. There are several native species in the Northeast and they are a favorite forage for wildlife and birds alike.

The Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is otherwise known as Japanese dogwood or Chinese dogwood. Kousa dogwood is a species introduced into New York State from Asia, namely China, Japan and Korea, that is known for it’s Spring “flowers”. (These are technically not the flowers but they are considered bracts. The flowers themselves are barely noticeable, contained within the showy white bracts.)

They are a midsized, usually multi-stemmed tree that has appeal all season long. The summer fruits are bright red and very attractive. The fall color is a spectacular, bright red. Even in the winter months the bark has a beautiful, multi-multicolored appearance, due to exfoliation.

It’s considered one of the perfect home landscape species due it’s resistance to insects and diseases, it’s small size, drought tolerance, light and shade tolerance and the above mentioned year round appeal.

Kousa dogwood fruit hanging on tree.Pin
Kousa dogwood fruit hanging on tree.

Like all of the dogwoods, Kousa fruits are edible. The skins of the fruit (technically considered a drupe) are fairly tough and it has seeds that are on the large size, but the actual edible fruit is somewhat gelatinous and the flavor resembles lemons, or even mangos, with a sweet flavor.

While most folks just leave them for the birds to devour, (which they will) we like to make a few dogwood recipes when they are ripe. The most beloved is this dogwood jam or jelly.

This Kousa dogwood fruit, like all red and purple fruits contains anthocyanin, which may possess health benefits since they are antioxidants. “The fruits are also used in traditional Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, an aid to cleansing the liver, and an ingredient to help improve energy levels.

Sadly, after cooking, you lose many of these natural health benefits.

New to canning? Start with our comprehensive article on “How to Can Everything“. It will walk you through all of the dos and don’ts related to canning.

What you need

  • kousa dogwood fruit – remove the stems.
  • water
  • sugar
  • lemon juice- use bottled lemon juice.
  • pectin- use classic pectin, not low sugar.
  • spices are optional but nice for a change, like, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves
Ingredients for kousa dogwood jelly. See details in recipe below.Pin
Ingredients for kousa dogwood jelly.

How to make it

How to prepare the fruit

Step One

Wash the fruit well under running water to remove any dirt or debris.

Use only the good berries, free from blemishes, bright colored and a bit soft when you lightly squeeze them.

Rinsing off fruit in colander.Pin
Wash fruit well.

Step Two

Add fruit to a large saucepan and barely cover with water.

Fruit in a large pot covered with water.Pin
Add fruit to stockpot and barely cover with water.

Step Three

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Notice the color will bleed from the fruit into the water.

Once cooked, the fruit will bleed most of it's color into the water.Pin
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes.

Step Four

Mash with a potato masher. The goal is just to smash the fruit enough get the flavorful juice out of the fruit.

Mashing the fruit with a potato masher.Pin
Mash fruit with a potato masher.

Step Five

Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the fruit solids or pulp.

Leftover pulp after draining.Pin
Strain out the mash through a fine sieve.

Step Six

Cover the small strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth.

Sieve covered in cheesecloth.Pin
After straining out the pulp, cover sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth..

Step Seven

Strain the juice again to remove some of the sediment.

Don’t be too concerned if there is still a bit of sediment left.

It won’t effect the flavor.

Sediment strained out with cheesecloth.Pin
Strain the juice through the cheesecloth to remove sediment.

How to make the jelly

Wash canning jars and rinse with very hot water. Heat jars before adding hot jam.

Step Eight

Add juice back to the cleaned pot.

Add pectin combined with a ¼ cup of sugar to a small bowl and mix well.

Then add it to the juice in the pot.

Bring to boil over high heat.

Juice added back to stockpot.Pin
Add juice back to the cleaned stockpot.

Step Nine

Once boiling, add the rest of the sugar all at once.

Stir continuously. Bring it back to boil that can not be stirred down.

Continue to boil for one minute.

Skim off foam, if needed.

Sugar added to syrup.Pin
Add sugar.

Step Ten

Ladle jelly liquid into hot jars, immediately, leaving ½ inch headspace. (the space between the jam and the top of the jar).

Remove bubbles.

Wipe jar rim with a damp paper towel or a moist cloth kitchen towel.

Dogwood Jelly in jars with bubble remover removing bubbles.Pin
Remove bubbles.

Center lids on jars. Screw on bands fingertip tight. Add jars to water bath canning pot. Bring the water in the pot to a boil.

When boiling, start timer and process for 10 minutes. Remove the canning pot from heat. Let jars rest in hot water for five minutes. Then remove to the counter and leave undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.

Test lids for seal. Press in the center of the lid. If it flexes up or down, it has not sealed and should be stored in the refrigerator and used first.

Pink Kousa dogwood jelly in jars.Pin

How do you use dogwood jelly

Dogwood jelly is great on so many things. Some of our favorite uses are;

  • On crackers or bagels with cream cheese, goat cheese or a nice aged brie cheese.
  • Topping for ice cream.
  • Flavoring or filling for cakes, muffins, pies or cookies.
  • Great on charcuterie boards or grazing platters and other meat dishes.
  • Delicious on pancakes, waffles and French toast.
  • Add it to flavor yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Adds a wonderful floral note to cocktails and mocktails.
  • Give them as hostess or holiday gifts.

Pro- Tip: When canning, choose a reputable source for your recipe. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is one and the other is the USDA Complete Guide to Canning.

All of the recipes on this site are based on one or both of these trusted sources. We just do a more thorough job showing you how to do it, step by step.

More homemade jelly

Helpful Tools

This dogwood jelly is a delicious kousa dogwood fruit recipe that the whole family will enjoy. Such a special delicacy for many occasions.

Dogwood jelly with dogwood fruit.
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Dogwood Jelly

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Dogwood Jelly in jars with leaves in the background.Pin

Dogwood Jelly

This Dogwood Jelly is made with the edible fruit of the Kousa dogwood tree. It is a bit floral and has a delicious, slightly tart flavor.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
4.63 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: canning, Condiment, jam
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Canning time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 80 tablespoons
Calories: 41kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $2

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Kousa dogwood fruit
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons classic pectin see recipe notes
  • 4 cups Sugar

Instructions

  • Prepare canning jars and lids by washing and heating them before starting the jelly. Get your canning pot on the stove preheating.
  • Wash the fruit well.
    4 cups Kousa dogwood fruit
  • Cover the fruit with the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Notice the color will bleed from the fruit into the water.
    4 cups water
  • Mash with a potato masher. The goal is just to smash the fruit enough get the flavorful juice out of the fruit, not macerate it.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solid pulp.
  • Cover the sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth.
  • Strain the juice again to remove some of the sediment.
    Don’t be too concerned if there is still a bit of sediment left.
    It won’t effect the flavor.
  • Place the strained fruit in a stockpot with the lemon juice. Mix the pectin with ¼ cup of the sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
    2 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons classic pectin
  • Then add the rest of the sugar all at once. Stir constantly until the jelly comes to a full rolling boil again. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
    4 cups Sugar
  • Ladle hot jelly into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove bubbles if necessary.
  • Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a damp paper towel to remove any debris.
  • Center the lid on the jar. Screw on the bands fingertip tight.
  • Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. After processing is complete, let jars rest in the hot water for at least 5 minutes so that they cool slowly. This will eliminate siphoning.
  • Remove jars to the counter and leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours until fully cooled. Check seals. Push down the center of the lids. If they flex, they are not sealed and should be stored in the refrigerator and used first.
    Store jars in a cool, dark place for at least one year.
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Notes

Makes five half pints.
You can make a low sugar version by substituting low sugar pectin and decreasing the sugar to 1-2 cups.
This recipe is great for a dogwood syrup, as well. Just cut the amount of pectin you use by half.
Altitude adjustment
0-1000 feet – 10 minutes
1000-3000 feet – 15 minutes
3000-6000 feet – 20 minutes
above 6000 feet – 25 minutes
Pro Tips
  • The color of your fruit blooms will affect the color of the jelly. Use ripe, tender fruit. 
  • Since the jelly is processed for more than 10 minutes, there is no need to use sterilized jars.
  • This recipe is fine for a water bath canner.
  • Use fruits that have not been sprayed with any chemicals, insecticides or inorganic fertilizers.
Ways to use it
  • Dogwood jelly is delicious on toast or a bagel with butter. It will transport you back to spring in the middle of winter.
  • It makes an amazing peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Top a cracker or English muffin with some cream cheese and a dab of jelly.
  • Use it as a condiment for your grazing platters. It’s especially good with soft cheeses like brie, camembert, goat cheese or queso fresco.
  • Use it as a filling for  your favorite desserts, such as, cookies, cakes and cupcakes. 

Nutrition

Calories: 41kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 0.004g | Fat: 0.04g | Saturated Fat: 0.001g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.001g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 0.04IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.03mg
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Originally published February 1, 2023.

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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love learning about new ingredients and dogwood has now picked up my curiosity. love the colour of the jelly so will be sure to look out for some.

  2. 5 stars
    This dogwood is a different one than the ones we have here on the west coast of Canada. This jelly looks so intriguing. Thank you for sharing!

    1. 5 stars
      This is such a unique recipe! I made both the regular and the lower sugar versions as my dogwood tree has so many berries, and both are amazing. I was worried before adding the lemon juice and sugar as it tasted like a weird herbal tea, but it turned out so good. I also added some vanilla and cinnamon. Highly recommend!

      1. Usually, when jelly doesn’t set, it’s in your measurements. Too much liquid, not enough pectin. Or you under or over processed the jelly. You can try to re-can it. Use low sugar pectin and heat the jam again. 4 cups jam, ¼ cup water ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 teaspoons pectin. Use new lids and reprocess for 10 minutes. If all else fails, use it as a syrup for desserts, ice cream, etc.

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