Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Violet Flower Jelly (for Doris)

Violets. Rarely ever do you hear someone complain about the path of violets taking over their yard. The welcoming swath of color that appears late in March and April provides eye-catching color and reprieve from the long grey winter months. Our common garden violet actually belongs to the Viola genus and is commonly referred to as Viola odorata. And she is edible! I came across this unique idea on the Grow It Eat It Blog. I love a recipe that incorporates an ingredient (or more!) that can be foraged locally for free. As long as you have a little time to dedicate to harvesting Viola blossoms (and quickly before they disappear!) you should make this jelly, which I call a "novelty jelly" because frankly it doesn't taste like Viola odorata, but it is how I imagine the color violet to taste.

Violet Flower Jelly

First find a large swath of Viola odorata's that have not had chemical application. Pick a packed quart sized jar, preferably JUST the blossom tops, no stems or leaves. The darker the Violets and the more you pack in the darker your jelly!
Wash the blossoms to remove bugs, dirt and the like. Re-pack them into your jar. Boil 2 cups of water and pour over the blossoms, using a spoon press down on the blossoms to make sure the water is distributed evenly throughout. The color will appear right away! Cover and let rest over night.

IMPORTANT! Before making the jelly:
Gather and wash/sterilize 5 half pint or 8 quarter pint jelly jars with rings and lids and all ingredients listed below. I did process my jelly in a hot water bath for 8 minutes. You do not have to do this step, however if you don't I suggest you give your jelly away as gifts and/or refrigerate. Either option you pick DO have your jars hot when you add the jelly as well as your lids and they will probably seal on their own.

The next day carefully strain out the Violet water until you get 2 cups (you may end up with more than 2 cups, keep the extra Violet water for coloring eggs, cocktails, Violet Water Perfume and making syrup).

Pour the Violet water into a large pot
Add the juice of one lemon
Add your pectin (I used Pomona Pectin, but was not happy with it) I would suggest using Sure-Jell (one packet)
Bring to a boil
Once its boiling add 4 cups of sugar, stir and bring back to a boil. Boil hard for one minute. Then reduce your heat to low, constantly stirring until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn off heat.
With your readied and HOT jars ladle the jelly in one at a time leaving about a 1/2 of head space. Lid and ring. Repeat until all the jelly is packed into the jars. Process or let cool and refrigerate. When you give these as gifts peoples faces light-up! Who knew? They'll say... and you are immediately the coolest chick on your block; with Violet lips of course. Hors d'oeuvres idea: Violet Jelly with Manchego or a Buttermilk Blue Cheese.

Enjoy! XOMC