Gardening and foraging are great lifetime hobbies. As long as you live, you’ll keep discovering new plants and new foods, and maybe even rediscovering those that are already close to home–like violets.
Violets are an edible flower that have long been a part of my culinary and pastry work, but they also have a number of medicinal uses and health benefits. This spring, violets have captured my family’s interest in the form of violet jelly. If you have kids to help you, it’s easy to fill a quart bag with blooms. Don’t worry if there are a couple of centimeters of stem here and there among the flowers. They are edible, and it doesn’t seem to affect the jelly.
You can find a number of recipes on the internet for violet jelly. The recipe from The Nerdy Farmwife was a good resource because it minimizes the proportion of sugar, yet will still set firm and turn into jelly.
The purple color of the jelly is the main attraction; the flavor is only faintly floral. What could be done to intensify this flavor? Adding a little crème de violette boosts the flavor, and it’s a nice liqueur to have in your collection because it’s an ingredient in fancy springtime cocktails like the Blue Moon, Aviation, and Water Lily. The Rothman and Winter brand of liqueur is especially nice for the jelly because the flavor is just violet unblended with citrus, vanilla, or other flavor. Rothman and Winter doesn’t seem to have a website (?!) but plenty of product information and recipes for Rothman and Winter Crème de Violette are available from retailers online.
The fresher your violet harvest, the better, of course, but if you can’t gather 2-3 cups of violet flowers all at once, not to worry–they seem to keep just fine in the refrigerator.
- 2 to 3 cups loosely packed violet blooms
- 2 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon crème de violette
- A smidgen (1/32 teaspoon) of sour salt or some lemon juice
The only purpose of the acidic ingredient is to alter the color of the jelly from an inky violet black to a lighter purple.
- 1 package (1.75 oz) of Sure-Jell pectin
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- Rinse the violets in a colander to clean them.
- Pour 2 ½ C. boiling water over 2 ½ C. violet blooms. Stir to make sure all the blooms are covered.
- Steep for 3-5 minutes, until you feel like the water has gotten as dark as it’s going to get. It will be an inky purple.
- Pour the water and blooms through a strainer into a clear glass container so that you can see the color your jelly will be. Squeeze every drop of colored water out of the violets, and then discard or compost them.
- Add 1 smidgen of sour salt. If you don’t have sour salt, add lemon juice a drop at a time until you like the color.
- Put the Sure-Jell powder into a saucepan with the hot violet water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.
- Add the sugar — keep stirring constantly — and bring back to a boil for another minute.
- Remove the pan from heat, skim off any foam, and stir in 2-4 tablespoons of Crème de Violette.
- Ladle the jelly into containers and let it cool before using. If you want to store the jelly at room temperature, use sterilized canning jars and process them in a water bath for 5 minutes (see more canning how-tos). Otherwise, store in the refrigerator.
If you try this recipe, or find another that you like, let me know! We’ll compare notes.