Wild violets are among the first splashes of color that appear in spring to break up the drabness of winter. As the name would suggest, they’re most often a deep purple-blue (although some varieties are white or yellow) and are borne amidst heart-shaped leaves.
To many, they’re weeds, but as you know, my definition of weed is vastly different from most others’. That, combined with the fact that we’ve been stuck at home for the past two months and looking for sources of entertainment, inspired a foraging trip (across the driveway). The result of that trip was violet jelly, the prettiest jelly I’ve ever made.
How To Make Violet Jelly
When I noticed all the violets popping up on a hill across the driveway, I wasn’t initially thinking of jelly. For fun (and to get them out of the house for a few minutes), I told the kids I’d give them a penny for each violet they picked. Well, apparently they’re more motivated by money than by anything else we try to implement to get them to do chores. Two thousand violets later, and we had a lot of flowers on our hands.
I’ve seen a couple recipes for violet jelly over the years, but never had enough violets to attempt it. But with a new yard full of them and nothing but free time, no time like the present, right?
This recipe will be slightly different from others that you might find. Namely, the sugar is more than cut in half. I ran across Pomona’s pectin a number of years ago and have been using it ever since. This pectin allows you to cut way back on the crazy amount of sugar in most jams and jellies while still being plenty sweet.
To make the violet jelly, you’ll need to start with violets, but you knew that already. Anywhere between 2-6 cups of flowers (try to keep leaves and stems out) should suffice. Add four cups of boiling water to the flowers and let it sit for at least an hour.
Strain out the flowers – the liquid should be a dark blue-violet color. Now for the fun part: add 1/2 cup of lemon juice. The liquid will turn from blue to a vibrant pink. The kids really enjoyed it, and it’s a good pH lesson for them.
Add a small amount of calcium water (the Pomona’s box will give instructions on how to make this), then bring to a boil. Combine the sugar and pectin in a bowl, and add this to the boiling liquid. Bring back to a boil, then remove from heat. Add it to jelly jars, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.