In a galaxy far, far away and another life ago, I was president of a garden club. One of the speakers we had was a woman named Leona Woodring Smith, who wrote “The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery.” I was intrigued then, and still am, by the use of flowers in recipes. I made violet jelly decades ago when my children were still young. I don’t think there were too many others in the lunchroom with peanut butter and violet jelly sandwiches back then. I haven’t thought about cooking with violets for eons, but this year they are cropping up all over our lawn. If given lemons, make lemonade, the saying goes. So following that logic, I made violet jelly.
I followed the recipe in the book, except I added a box of Certo sure-jell instead of 1/2 bottle called for in the recipe. Maybe that made the difference this time, because it hasn’t set up quite the way my violet jelly did years ago. Still, it’s pretty, and I can think of lots of ways to use it, including a beautiful and delicious one I hope to post immediately after this one that would be perfect for Mother’s Day.
Wild Violets - otherwise known as weeds to many, but to me they’re a food source.
So get picking. Forage your neighbor’s yard or nearby meadows, if need be. But I wouldn’t harvest any if weed killers have been used. Right now is perfect since we haven’t added any pesticides to our lawn. But the window of opportunity is short, so go – now – before it starts raining again.
1 1/2 cups violet water (see below)
1 T. lemon juice
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 bottle fruit pectin (Certo)
Combine the violet water, lemon juice and sugar in a large pan. (You may double violet water to use in making jelly. Pour your first batch of violet water over fresh blossoms and repeat the process.) Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the fruit pectin and boil hard for one full minute, stirring constantly.
To make violet water: Place about two cups of violets into a glass jar or measuring cup. Add boiling water (I used about 1 1/2 cups of distilled water which gets you the best results.) Strain and use the liquid for the jelly recipe, or to color drinks, make icings, sauces, etc. If you prefer stronger flavor or coloring, reheat the liquid and pour over a fresh batch of flowers.
A special thanks to Susan of Sticky,Gooey,Chewy,Creamy for giving me a tip on how to enlarge photos.