For several years now Spring has come and gone and I’ve completely missed violet season. But by complete and sheer luck I managed to be at the right place (home) at the right time (yesterday) to notice patches of my yard in full bloom with pretty little wild violets. The neighbors probably thought I was crazy, what with being pregnant and laying on the sidewalk picking itty bitty dainty flowers. Wild violets are, I gather, hated by those who love a perfect, zero-weed lawn – but they’re loved by me. I may not have a perfect lawn, but I have violets! And when Mother Nature hands you a free bounty of edible flowers, who am I to ignore her?
I ended up with two cups (unpacked) of violets from the yard, but I worried it wouldn’t be enough – after all, I’ve never made anything from violets before so I don’t know how strong the flavor would be. My sister, who happens to live down the street, came to my aid and sent my lovely 7 year old niece outside to pick as many as she could. And, as it turns out, with her help I had enough violets for two batches of jelly!
I spent an hour or two at the kitchen counter picking stems off the flowers, though I’m not really sure I needed to. When I had 3 cups of flowers, I tucked them into a wide-mouth canning jar and poured 2.5 cups boiling water over them to let them steep. This was the most frustrating part as I am not a patient person: you let the violets steep in the water for 24 hours. So excruciating when you’re excited about a project and can’t wait to get it done! The water goes from clear to a gorgeous shade of blue and gets darker the longer you let it sit. And then science happens when you add lemon juice to your mixture and the color changes from blue to purple – which is definitely something I’ll be doing in the future with this little Mr of mine when he’s old enough (what kid doesn’t love seeing colors change like it’s magic?!) From there, it’s the usual canning routine – sugar, pectin, bringing to a boil, ladle into sterile hot jars, etc, etc.
The end result is a beautiful preserve that tastes not like anything I would have expected – it doesn’t taste “earthy” or like you’re eating a jelly made of flowers. It tastes fruity, really. My first batch hasn’t quite set up right, though that by no means makes it inedible. It will just end up being spread almost like honey on biscuits or mixed in with some homemade vanilla ice cream. The next batch I’ll process a bit longer in hopes it helps with the consistency issue. If I manage to nail the time down properly, I’ll come back and update this with a proper recipe. If not, no big deal – there’s always next year to try again!