What a coincidence, the week of the Royal Wedding. A perfect combination of tradition and today’s idea of the environment. Violet jelly: I transformed sprightly flowers into a glistening substance with a jewel-like violet-magenta color, and an incomparable honey-like flavor of lush flowers, subtle, slightly sweet. Astonishing, actually. The just-picked flowers are gently shaken in a colander to release small dirt particles, and then misted to clean them. Simmering the blossoms in water releases the color into the liquid, which at that point was dark violet leaning toward gray because of the color of the small green bracts. With the addition of sugar, powdered pectin and a touch of lemon juice (to encourage the pectin), the color jumped to magenta (from the citric acid in the pectin). The jelly was cooked to perfection in less than 5 minutes.
The best time to pick the violets is midday, after the dew has evaporated and before the sun is too hot. They are most aromatic at that time. Make sure to pick the violets from an area that has not been sprayed with chemicals. Mine came from the prairie that we call our front lawn.
2 c violet flowers (no stems)
2 c water (equal in volume to violets)
½ c sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp powdered pectin (Sure-Jell) dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water
Shake the flowers gently in a colander to remove small particles of dirt and gently mist them to clean. Place the flowers and water in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes to release the color and flavor into the liquid. Drain the liquid, pressing down on the flowers to get the last drops.
Place a saucer in the freezer, which you’ll use to test the gel.
Return the violet liquid to the saucepan and add the sugar, lemon and dissolved pectin. Bring to a boil and cook rapidly for about 3 minutes. Test for gel by placing a drop on the frozen saucer. If it wrinkles when touched, the gel is set. If it’s runny, continue to cook until the gel test is set. This will take about 5 minutes altogether. Do not overcook, The gel will set after you remove it from the heat. Pour into hot clean jars.
Makes about two 4 oz jars of jelly.