Violets are for Spring (and Violet Jelly)

Spring is late this year–which makes it even more welcome!  Violets stud the lawns and blossoms grace cherry trees, making for a lovely scene.  But this means that local food will also be late… what is a locavore to do?

Violets in Lawn

Violets in Lawn

Eat violets?

Yes!

A couple years ago I made a ginger violet salad which was pretty and tasty, but I wanted to do a little more this year.  Full of canning inspiration from my recent Food Swap, I decided to try violet jelly.  I ended up with four little jars which sat, in pink-purple splendor, and were eyed suspiciously by my kids.

Pink purple violet jelly

“Suspicious” pink purple violet jelly

This weekend, with daughter #1 home from college, we are spending our first weekend together since New Years.  To celebrate–and to try out the jelly–she made scones.  When they came out of the oven, it all sounded like this:

“Leave something for pictures.”  “Hurry, I’m going out.”  “It’s GOOD” (eyes wide).  Laugh, “You look surprised.”  “It’s so PINK.”  “It IS good.”  “It tastes like jello.”  “It doesn’t taste like jello.” “Why are you eating strawberry jam?”  “I’m saving it for the pictures.” Snort, “You don’t need to do that.”

Violet Jelly with scones

Violet Jelly with scones

The jelly tasted good even to a non-jelly-eater like me. I would describe the flavor as lemony with an herbal-floral undertone.  Putting it on the scones extinguished all thoughts of butter–though daughter  #1 (who studied for a year in Britain) suggested I might research homemade clotted cream.   Violet jelly with scones and clotted cream?   Hmmmm…

Scone with violet jelly

Scone with violet jelly

Violet Jelly

Recipe based on one from Healthy Green Kitchen,  Yield: About 2 cups (four 1/2 cup jars)

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 cups fresh wild violet flowers (with stems removed) from an area which has not been sprayed with chemicals and is free from pet waste.  Note that African violets (houseplants) are poisonous and should NOT be used.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used fresh squeezed organic)
  • 1 (1.75 oz) package pectin (I used Sure Jell for low sugar jam)
  • 2 cups white sugar (in case the darker organic would change the color)

Directions:

1. Rinse and drain flowers, and place in heat-proof glass bowl or 4 cup glass measuring cup. Bring water to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and allow to steep overnight, or for up to 24 hours.

violet-jelly-rinse-flowers

violet-jelly-flowers-soakin

2. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth.  Press all the liquid from the plant material (compost or discard the flowers when you’re through).  Add water to bring up to 2 cups of liquid if needed.  If not using it right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.

Strain through cheesecloth

Strain through cheesecloth

3. Combine strained liquid with lemon juice in the saucepan, then whisk in the pectin and the sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, whisking to ensure the sugar and pectin dissolve thoroughly, then turn heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes (or until the jelly has reduced a bit and thickened).

Cook violet jelly

Cook violet jelly

4. Skim off any foam and then ladle into clean, hot and sterile jars, leaving 1/8″ head space. Wipe jar edges, top with lid and screw on the rings, then process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes.

5. Remove jars and allow to cool for 24 hours on the counter.

From what I have read, the color of the juice can vary from green/yellow to pink/purple based on the acidity of your water but will generally be pink or purple after the addition of the lemon juice (mine was pink/purple the whole time).  A lot of recipes use more sugar but I agreed with the this version’s creator that less sweet was better and used her reduced amounts.  I did use the reduced sugar pectin to compensate. I used four cups of violets because we had so many, but many people have reported success with two.  Violets are reputed to contain vitamin C and were a favorite treat of my Guinea Pigs (who even ate the stems).

Violet Jelly

Violet Jelly (disappearing)

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14 thoughts on “Violets are for Spring (and Violet Jelly)

  1. Karis

    I love the color of the jelly! I also love the jello comment 🙂 On a related note, did you know that jelly in the UK means jello? They only use the word jam for what you’d spread on a scone. Shoot, now I really want a scone with jam and clotted cream!

    1. Inger

      I remember from studying in Ireland that “pudding” was dessert, not what we would call pudding too. But since you want clotted cream now as well, I guess I really will need to try making some!

  2. Lynn

    What a neat idea! This looks so pretty! I’ll have to try to remember this for next year. Unfortunately we had a warm spell early this year (followed by another cold spell…shesh!) so all of our wild violets have already come and gone.

    1. Inger

      I knew I was posting this on the late side. But you know I think that’s the great thing about having a blogging history like we do–you know that it makes sense to queue interesting projects up for next year!

  3. Louise

    Violet jelly/jam with scones and clotted cream, oh my. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at violet jelly and other edible flower recipes. Although, I did make marigold jelly once:) I wonder if Parma Violets could be used in this recipe? They are quite fragrant.

    So nice to have your daughter experience your first violet jelly recipe at home. Priceless…

    Thanks for sharing, Inger…

    1. Inger

      It’s so good to have you back Louise! Marigold jelly sounds lovely! I am happy to have my daughter back and glad that grad school will be closer!

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