O wind, where have you been,
That you blow so sweet?
Among the violets
Which blossom at your feet
This Spring, I discovered that many of the “weeds” that grow in my yard are edible! This is exciting if, like me, you enjoy foraging for food and, come springtime, are anxiously waiting for your garden to grow!
Violets aren’t just tasty and beautiful; they’re also good for you! They contain flavanoids and alkaloids, which may help lower blood pressure. The mucilage and saponins in violets help soothe the throat and lungs, and the salicytic acid they contain is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce joint pain. Violets also provide antioxidants including beta carotene and ascorbic acid, and about half a cup of violets contains as much vitamin C as four oranges!
Violets can make a beautiful addition to a meal, with raw buds as a salad garnish, or flowers frozen in ice cubes to make iced tea or any drink more elegant. Violets can be prepared in many ways – the flowers can be candied, the leaves can be made into tea, and ice creams, sherbets, and puddings can be infused with violet essence. For my first time collecting violets, I chose to make violet jelly.
It takes quite a bit of time to collect many flowers, so this recipe yields a small amount (roughly one pint) but it can easily be doubled or tripled if your yard violets abound! Be sure that the violets you collect do not come from areas treated with pesticides or herbicides.
This was my first time making a floral jam or jelly, and the results were quite nice. This violet jelly tastes slightly floral, with a hint of lemon, and is not too sweet. It would be wonderful paired with buttermilk or yogurt biscuits.
RECIPE: VIOLET JELLY
Notes: The original recipe is by the fabulous Winnie Abramson of Healthy Green Kitchen. She used two cups of sugar, which in jelly making could decrease its consistency and firmness as there needs to be enough sugar, acid (lemon juice) and pectin to form a gel consistency. That said, the recipe contains the needed amount of lemon juice, no tinkering was done, and enough sugar that it is shelf stable. In addition, I used organic sugar, which may have darkened the jelly a bit – it might be lighter pink if you use regular sugar. Commercial pectin is essential as there is no naturally occurring pectin in violets. Lastly, if you want to can this recipe, split the 1 pint yield into Ball’s 4oz. jars.
- Two cups of violet flowers/buds
- Two cups of water
- Two to four cups of white granulated sugar or organic sugar (depending on your taste- see above note)
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- 1.75 oz. package fruit pectin
To begin, soak two cups of violets in water for a minute or two to remove any gritty dirt or sand.
Then, add two cups of boiling water to the clean violets, and let them steep in a covered glass container overnight, for up to 24 hours. Drain the violets using a mesh sieve, pressing the buds to get all of the liquid out.
Combine the liquid and ¼ cup of lemon juice into a saucepan – notice how the liquid turns from blue to pink with the addition of the lemon juice – cool! Whisk in two cups of sugar and a 1.75 ounce package of fruit pectin. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring to ensure that the sugar and pectin fully dissolve. Then turn the heat to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
To test whether the jelly is thickened enough, chill a small plate in the freezer, then drop a bit of jelly onto it and put it back in the freezer for one minute. The surface of the jelly should wrinkle when you push it lightly with your finger. If not, keep cooking it for a few more minutes and then try again.
Once the jelly is done, pour it into sterile jars, leaving 1/8” head space. Wipe the lids and screw on the rings, and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let them cool for 24 hours on the counter.
Over the past few years, Betsy has discovered a love of vegetable gardening and home preservation, and she is crazy about FSC food swaps! She lives with her husband and daughter near Albany, and is an assistant professor in teacher education at SUNY Empire State College.