I go weak in the knees for recipes made with edible flowers…
…so when violets started popping up across my yard recently, I immediately set about gathering as many as possible.
I’ve had my eye on a violet syrup recipe in Healing Wise for years, but it calls for 1/2 pound of violets. If you’ve ever picked violets, you know that they are pretty much devoid of mass, and that unless you’ve got a carpet of them underfoot (or an army of helpers), it takes a good while to collect even 1 cup. So I wanted to make something that did not require quite so many.
Last summer, I was obsessed with this rose petal and lemon balm jelly, so I did some googling to see if violet jelly was something I should be considering. The moment I laid my eyes on the color of this loveliness, I was sold: I knew that my violets would meet a similar fate.
The violet jelly recipe that seems to be “the internet standard” has 4 cups of sugar, but I reduced it by half. The result is a jam with a perfectly sweet, subtly floral flavor that all but glows with an irresistible magenta hue; I could not help but bake up some fresh Greek yogurt biscuits in order to celebrate its beauty.
According to herbalist Susun Weed, all violets (cultivated and wild) are edible: this even includes pansies (just make sure to only use violets that have not been sprayed with chemicals, and which are away from where your dogs do their business). In her book Healing Wise, Ms. Weed writes that violet leaves are very high in minerals and vitamin C, and can be used as food and as medicine (they are reputed to benefit many organs in the body and early herbal literature describes them as possessing anti-cancer properties). The flowers, which are featured in this recipe, also contain vitamin C and are believed to be beneficial to the sensory organs.
Recipe for Violet Jelly
Yield: About 2 cups (four 1/2 cup jars)
Once you've picked enough violet flowers, making this jelly could not be simpler. I got four 1/2 cup jars which I canned (plus a little extra that went straight into the refrigerator) out of this recipe.
*2 cups fresh violet flower petals (no stems)- make sure you gather them from an area which has not been sprayed with chemicals (and where your dogs don't do their business)
*2 cups water
*1/4 cup bottled lemon juice (I used organic)
*one (1.75 oz) package pectin (I used Mrs. Wages fruit pectin)
*2 cups sugar (though I rarely use white sugar, I did in this case because I wanted to make sure the jelly would have the vibrant pink color
1. Rinse and drain flower petals, and place in heat-proof glass bowl. 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 a fine mesh sieve: use a wooden spoon to press all the liquid from the plant material (compost or discard the flowers when you're through). The liquid will have a greenish tint at this point. 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 (notice how it turns purple!), 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 to medium high and cook, 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 your clean, hot and sterile jars, leaving 1/8″ head space. Wipe lids and screw on the 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.
Adapted from Rhythm of the Home.