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Monday, April 25, 2011

Violet Jelly & a busy weekend

It was another dreary weekend... but it makes for pretty pictures.

We had a jam-packed schedule which included a somewhat last minute change to us hosting Easter lunch for HE's family, for the first time EVER.

Which meant my to do list exploded. But everything went off without a hitch.

We saw enough sun on Sunday to eat outside, which was very nice. Scotch tape presents were made...

As well as this...Violet Jelly!

Yes, Violets as in these...

I've had the recipe for years, you can find it everywhere, it's rumored to be an old time recipe but no one can pinpoint the origin.  Even my 1879 Housekeeping in Old Virginia manual does not mention it.  Hmmm... mysterious.

The most time consuming part of making Violet Jelly is picking the flowers, lucky we don't spray or treat our lawn so we have quite a large supply of them right now.  Enough so, I picked an additional 4 cups for Violet Syrup which is currently steeping.

Violet Jelly
[printer friendly]

  • 2 cups fresh violets
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon, strained (measuring 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 3 oz Liquid Pectin (or 1 pkg powdered pectin)
  • 4 cups of white sugar

Place flowers in a glass jar or bowl, pour boiling water over and gently push flowers under water.

Cover and set aside on the counter to steep for 24 hours. Stir or swirl once or twice to keep flowers submerged.

[Look at this color, left and middle are after steeping the flowers, beautiful blue color. Photo on right - lemon juice changes the color to a vibrant magenta.]

Strain flowers through several layers of cheesecloth or very fine sieve into pot. Squeeze extra liquid gently out of blossoms, then compost or toss them back out in the yard or garden.

Add lemon juice, stir in pectin.

Bring to boil. Add sugar, stir well, then bring to boil again.

Boil vigorously for 1 minute. (I used a candy thermometer to bring the temp to 220, the gel stage for Jellies. It took slightly longer than one minute). Skim if necessary

Pour into sterile jars and refrigerate.

Makes about 4 1/2 half pint size jars.

A few notes:

I gently rinsed the flowers to remove a few little ants prior to steeping. And I packed them in my measuring cup pretty tight, so I had a full tightly packed 2 cups worth.

ONLY use violets that come from chemical free untreated areas.

I used white sugar, because I've seen notes that those using raw sugar found it changed the color slightly.  I use Domino brand as they do not use GMO sugar beets.

After much discussion with Marisa over at Food In Jars, we've come to a unanimous agreement that floral syrups should not be canned.

It is common practice with many bloggers to water bath process them and that is where I originally first started to do so. But the FDA does not offer any recommendations for floral syrups.

The reason for this advisement is that after 6 months I noticed major changes in my processed jars. There were 'colonies' of 'something' growing. Neither of us were able to determine what exactly it was but it was every single jar of both Violet and Dandelion Syrups had something growing in them.

There was no off-gassing or expansion, bubbling, or off-odor, but it almost looked like the 'mother' you would find in cider vinegar and kombucha.

Without testing there is no way to know, but it seemed to resemble a fungus of some sort. Possibly something that was on the flowers.  Both types of floral syrups seemed to grow different 'colonies'. I canned several different batches over a period of one month, all from flowers from my own yard, and all but two jars had something growing.

I have been growing, making and preserving my own foods for a very long time and have not seen this before.

So, if you are going to can these types of syrups I would advise against doing so, but if you decide to, I would use them in short order.

It's my feeling that it is best to refrigerate floral syrups in sterile jars.

Wondering about the taste?

I spent some time tasting it this morning. I was very surprised. Obviously, due to all of the sugar and it being a jelly it is very sweet. But there is a very light floral taste that is quite pleasing, and since Violets do not have a fragrance this really surprised me.

With butter on toast it was very good used sparingly. Definitely would be quite good on a not too sweet pastry such as biscuits or scones.

I would definitely make this again. It would make a nice gift or tea party condiment.

See my posts on:

Making Dandelion Syrup
Floral Syrups - Things you should know


Jen said...

Wait a minute - you hosted Easter dinner for your in-laws AND made violet jelly?! You are super-woman! I bow to you. :) Wish I could find enough violets around here to try this. They don't grow in profusion at 6500 ft...

cmv... said...

hahahahah! Trust me Jen that was not my plan! I already had the violet jelly planned when I found out about hosting. since violets don't bloom long i didn't want to miss them once again. i've wanted to make this for years.

TaraLarsenChang said...

I always wish that one could make jelly without all the sugar.... (but that would kind of defeat the jellification process I suppose). I make a number of fruit/floral/herbal jellies that are fabulous, but would be even better if not so sweet...

cmv... said...

I agree Tara, but I would much rather use these than store bought jellies. If you ever wish to share or write a guest post when you make some of your jellies, please let me know, I would love it. :]

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