Violet Jelly

Violet JellyAlong with the lovely tradition of making dandelion jelly in the spring, I also grew up with violet jelly. As a girl it took a lot of time to gather the hundreds of flowers needed to fill my mom’s pint jar. It often involved walking with my sister to parks and lawns that were further from the house than we were used to roaming. It was an adventure.

Violet JellySo I was delighted to find patches of violets springing up here and there in our parkways when we first moved here. I don’t make it every year, you really have to drop everything and get out there while they’re still blooming. You can find dandelions off and on all summer, but the violet flowers are a one-time deal. It took us about 45 minutes to roam around the neighborhood picking any flowers off of the parkways that are city property. I don’t worry much about pesticide, because there are so few of our neighbors who treat their parkways the way they do their lawns. And if they have violets and dandelions, they likely don’t treat either! Our neighborhood is relaxed like that.

 

Violet Jelly

The most magical thing about this jelly is the color. It glows with a amethyst purple that is almost prettier than the flower itself. And it makes a nice science demonstration.

Violet Jelly
Violet tea before lemon juice
Violet Jelly
After lemon juice!

When you pour the boiling water over the petals, the liquid turns a dark sapphire blue. The first time I made it I thought I had done something wrong. But when you add the lemon juice, the citric acid reacts to the cyan-compounds and lowers the pH, turning it right back to purple! It’s pretty neat. The flavor is very mild. It’s mostly just sweet. I’ve thought of adding a drop or two of rose water to give it a more floral note but always chicken out. If you try that, let me know how it tastes!

Some tips:

  • Try to gather on a dry day. Muddy flowers mean muddy jelly. Ew.
  • Which leads me to my next tip, which is to gather flowers in an area you feel confident is not loaded with pesticides and dog pee.
  • Violet JellyMake sure to get as many flowers into your pint jar as you can. Press them down gently to fit them all in. The more flowers, the deeper the color.
  • Make your violet tea as soon as you can after picking, while the petals are still a nice and fresh. A few hours is fine.
  • Liquid pectin and powdered pectin behave differently. This calls for liquid pectin. Call ahead to make sure your grocery store stocks it. When I called mine, they had me spell it four times and then asked me if it was a “medical thing”. But they did carry it, just took some coaxing.
  • Violet JellyUse the deepest pot you have because boiling jelly is no joke. It boils up very high and can be a real menace if it overflows.
  • The recipe calls for 80z. (half pint) jars. I also put this jelly in smaller 4oz. jars for gifts. Ball sells a 4oz jar at Target with a one-piece lid that I like.
  • The recipe says to put these in “processed jars”. This means the jars and lids have been boiled and prepared like you do with legit canning. There is a pretty good tutorial here if you’d like your jelly to be shelf stable. I usually make 8 jars and give 7 away, so I’m fine with just refrigerating.

Violet JellySpecial thanks to my mom, Vicki Nowicki, for keeping this tradition going throughout my childhood and for sharing her recipe. I’ve made some changes to standardize the measurements, but the ingredients and method are the same.

 

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Violet Jelly
This unusual jelly gets it's beautiful amethyst color from an infusion of boiling water and wild violet flowers. Don't worry if your "tea" is blue at first, once you add the lemon juice it will go right back to purple.
Violet Jelly
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
8 o. jars
Ingredients
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
8 o. jars
Ingredients
Violet Jelly
Instructions
  1. Pour boiling water into your jar of violets until it is full, making sure to gently press on the violets to release any air bubbles. Cover your jar and keep it out of bright sunlight for about 24 hours. The color of the violet tea will look sapphire blue, not purple.
  2. Line a colander with a paper towel or coffee filter and strain the violet tea. If necessary, add enough water to your tea so that the mixture equals 2 cups.
  3. In a deep pot, mix the tea and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Add the sugar and pectin, then bring to a hard boil for another minute. Turn off the heat and skim the top.
  4. Pour into processed jars.
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15 thoughts on “Violet Jelly

    1. Hi Leslie :). I usually just pour enough in to fill the jar. It tends to be about 1.5-1.75 cups, depending on how tightly you’ve packed your flowers. The important thing is to start the jelly-making with two cups of liquid. XO.

    1. I use it like any other jelly <3. I put it on toast, it's lovely on crackers with goat cheese. It's also a great filling for a layer cake. I've used it, along with sugared violets, to glaze and decorate the tops of pound cake or almond cupcakes. What medicinal properties might it have? That sounds interesting!

      1. According to my research it is a great expectorant.
        Properties and Uses:
        Diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative. Primarily used for respiratory problems.
        Tea made from the leaves also made a soothing gargle as wellas for headache.

  1. Thank you for the recipe and sharing your childhood. I’m very new to this, so I have to ask. I just pick the petals off the plant and not any other part of the flower. Correct?

    1. Hi Andra 🙂 For this recipe you can just pluck the whole flower, even a tiny bit of the stem won’t hurt anything. If you look at the top pick on this post, of the flowers in the jar, that’s how I do it. To make the tea, I just pour the boiling water directly into the jar over the flowers. Does that help?

  2. If I make jam it usually gets processed in the canner or it is a freezer jam that stays in the freezer until I am ready for it, but this recipe doesn’t say to do either. Do you think if I put it in freezer-safe jars that it would freeze well?

    1. You can absolutely can this, that’s what my mom does. But yes, this would freeze just fine. I usually just keep mine in the fridge because I give all but a few jars away and I’m terrified of “real” canning.

    1. Hi Kathy 🙂 I usually make this as refrigerator jelly but I know many people like to hoard it all for themselves and that means it must be shelf stable 😉 If you look at the tips above you’ll find this: “The recipe says to put these in “processed jars”. This means the jars and lids have been boiled and prepared like you do with legit canning. There is a pretty good tutorial here (http://www.simplycanning.com/water-bath-canning.html) if you’d like your jelly to be shelf stable. I usually make 8 jars and give 7 away, so I’m fine with just refrigerating”

  3. I only stock the powdered MCP premium fruit pectin and am wondering if that would work for this recipe? This pectin is made by the makers of Sure•Jell if that helps any.

    1. I wish I could say but I just don’t know enough about the different types to advise you. I like to live dangerously so I’d probably just try it, knowing that I might get syrup or jello shots instead of jelly. If you do try it with the pectin you have, be sure to let me know how it turns out!

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