‘Tis the season for violets! They’ve multiplied from last year, so picking has been faster and on some flat ground (for a change). For this unique jelly, I am using my late Aunt Katy’s recipe that won several ribbons at the Rock Island County Fair. It is a nostalgic process for me as I remember picking violets as a small child so that my grandma could make jelly and later, after moving to this house, picking them for Aunt Katy. Picking violets is hard on the lower back, and finding a large, dense patch of the dainty flowers is key to getting the job done quickly.
How many do you need?
A quart (4 cups) of these pretty little flowers are picked, rinsed, and placed in a large glass dish. Boiling water is poured over and like magic, the water turns the most beautiful bluish color that reminds me of a faraway sea. The violets will sit for at least 12 hours, and then the infusion is drained and measured.
Here is where the color and magic happens. That blue/green infusion is placed in a stainless steel stockpot. Add in a few tablespoons of lemon juice and the color changes instantly! It becomes very pink. Think of the color of pink lemonade. After pectin is added and the mix boils, sugar is added. And, more magic – it changes color to a pale lavender.
Finishing the jelly
After boiling for one minute, the jelly is ready to be put in jars and processed. The end result is a lightly flavored, pretty and sweet jelly. What do you do with it? Use it like any other jelly on toast or a PB&J. Or, you can use it as part of an appetizer of fancy crackers with a sharp white cheddar or manchego cheese and a little jelly on top.
This batch makes five half pint jars of this unusual jelly. It can be found in my online store right now for $5 per half pint jar. Currently, there is one more batch of infusion in the freezer and it’s uncertain if more violets will be picked this season.