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?
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.
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, everyone gathered around and it 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.”
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…
Recipe based on one from Healthy Green Kitchen, Yield: About 2 cups (four 1/2 cup jars)
- 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)
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.
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.
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).
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).
- Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Quiche
- Goat Cheese and Wild Ramp (or Green Onion) Bruschetta