|Violets that grow in the garden where our dearly departed pets lay.|
In Nashville there is a small window of opportunity opening right now and that is violet season. The pretty little blossoms fill up our backyard and turn the whole place into a fairy den. This window doesn't stay open long--it won't last long where you are, either--so now's the time to get out there and pick flowers if you intend to enjoy the first sweet delicacy of the season: violet jelly.
There are many recipes for making violet or other blossom jelly. This is the one I use. It is pretty simple and follows the guidelines set forth by the USDA for food preservation safety.
Violet Jelly2 heaping cups of violet blossoms
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup clear lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
4 cups sugar
When picking the violets choose pretty flowers--the ones that are pretty enough for a bouquet are the ones that are good enough to eat. :) Do not include stems or leaves but the green part holding the blossom together is OK to leave on.
Pour the boiling water over the blossoms and let them steep at least a couple of hours, but overnight is better. Strain the liquid and put the blossoms in your compost pile. If you can't make the jelly right away, put the liquid in the fridge. Make the jelly within a couple of days, before the liquid goes bad.
Making the jelly is pretty much like making any other kind of jelly. Measure the violet liquid and add water if needed to reach 2 cups. Put the violet liquid, lemon juice, and pectin in a pot. NOTE--the acid from the lemon juice will turn the violet liquid from a deep blue/purple to bright pink! (it's the same thing that happens when you acidify the soil around blue hydrangeas). You can add food coloring at this point to return the purplish color if you wish. Heat the mixture until boiling.
Add all the sugar at once, then stir constantly until the mixture is at a hard boil that cannot be stirred down. Keep the jelly at a hard boil for one full minute. Remove from heat.
Skim the jelly (I like to set aside the skimmings for tasting while I wait for the jelly to set). Ladle the mixture into hot half-pint jars, clean rims and threads, place lids, and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Set upright on a towel or hot mat and allow to cool for 24 hours.
The jelly will store on the shelf for at least one year. If you don't wish to process the jelly for canning, you can store it in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for a few months.
And a little tip for the beginners: if your jelly doesn't set up, you call it syrup. ;) Add it to a little soda water and you have the most ladylike Spring drink ever invented.