I’m always a little hesitant when it comes to making jellies. (A) they’re a lot more work than jam. You need to collect the juices of whatever fruit (or in this case flower) you’re using, then cook the liquid then add the pectin, then reduce it… It’s just a lot of steps. Where as with jams, you mash the fruit, cook it for a bit, and there you go. (B) I’ve had a lot of failures with jelly. It took me some time to get the hang of using pectin. The jelly isn’t supposed to be totally thick when you’re canning it, it thickens as it cools. I’ve ever ended up with over jellied jelly, so thick, it’s practically a soft candy, or under jellied where after canning, I can turn the jar over and it’s like having canned a syrup. Somehow with this recipe I got it right, a well jellied consistency that moves a bit in the jar but still holds firm.
When I challenged you to violet foraging this weekend, what I really meant was a few hours outside, collecting flowers, getting a bit a of a tan, then the rest of your time slaving over your kitchen. Just kidding. In reality, all three (syrup, jelly and soon to come candied violets) are relatively simple, but take patience. Like the syrup, you need to let you flowers infuse for a full day. Unlike the syrup, however, you can use the full bud, no need to pick off the individual flowers, unless you really have that much time on your hands. If so, I still have a few windows here that need cleaning, caked with what I’m convinced is still layers of 1920s grime.
The jelly, like the syrup, is sweet with hints of floral. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t smell nearly as intoxicating as sticking my noise in a quart of them, but oh well. The most “violet tasting” recipe I came across was to simply candy them. Check back tomorrow for that recipe. As for how to use the jelly? Well, you have your typical jam and toast, but also consider using it in other forms of baking or cooking. Stuff a cupcake, glaze some pork chops or chicken. Serve it with some cheese (what kind, test them all–mild to stinky and let me know what works best). My plan for today is to use it as the filling of a birthday cake. Lemon layer cake, violet jelly filling, vanilla bean butter cream and candied violets for decoration. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Violet Jelly (Adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen) Makes 5-6 40z jars
- 2 c tightly packed violet flowers (no stems)
- 2 c boiling water
- 1/4 c bottled lemon juice
- 1 1/2 c white sugar (again, white is essential to retain the violet color)
- 4 tsp pectin
Rinse and drain flowers and place in a small stainless steel saucepan or heat-proof glass bowl. Pour over boiling water, cover and let steep for 24 hours. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan, using a wooden spoon (or very clean hands) to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add lemon juice and gently heat over medium low heat until warm.
In a small bowl, whisk sugar and pectin until well incorporated. Add sugar-pectin blend to violet water and whisk until completely dissolved. Turn heat up to medium high and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. You want to stay close to the pot because it does have a tendency to bubble over if left unattended. Continue cooking until mixture has thickened slightly, about 5-10 minutes, skimming off any foam as you go (there will be a lot). Jelly is ready when it passes the chilled plate test.
Make sure all foam has been removed and ladle jelly into clean, hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean, center lids and screw on jar rings. Process in boiling water bath for 12 minutes.
Remove jars and allow to cool for 24 hours. Press on center of lids after about 1 hour to make sure they’ve sealed. If the lid springs back, it did not seal properly and needs to be stored in the refrigerator. After 24 hours, label jars and store in pantry.
- Hot Pepper Jelly (newgrandmas.com)
- Lavender Jelly, so Elegant (mysticalview73.wordpress.com)
- Foraging for Violets – Violet Syrup and Bonus Cocktail (bklynlocavore.com)
- A New Look at Local Food: Urban Foraging (bklynlocavore.com)