April 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

It’s Spring — Time for Violet Jelly!

Common Blue Violet growing on campus

Common Blue Violet growing on campus

Springtime means wildflowers in the woods and lawns around campus. Violet expert Dr. Harvey Ballard, Associate Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology, has some advice.

“It’s that time of the year, when the purple-flowered violets are blooming, and we can make delicious jelly! The Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia, is pretty abundant in some areas, and I regularly make a batch or two of jelly using the flowers (without the stalks). The jelly is one of the easiest to make, has a beautiful rose-violet color, and is delicious with a fruit-punch flavor. It reportedly has quite a lot of vitamin C as well,” Ballard says.

The following is an easy recipe adapted from Euell Gibbons’s “Stalking the Healthful Herbs.”

“Pay close attention to the time to boil the jelly mixture after you have added pectin and sugar and have brought it to a rolling boil,” notes Ballard. “A minimum of two minutes is necessary to end up with nicely gelled product, but three minutes is not unreasonable. Have fun! “

Violet Jelly

This jelly has a delicious fruity flavor and a lovely rose-violet color. Use purple-flowered violets, e.g., woolly blue violet (Viola sororia Willd. [syn.: V. papilionacea auct.]) or English violet (V. odorata), as these have the most flavor and produce the most vividly colored jelly. The following makes almost six 8-oounce jars of jelly. (I like to buy a 12-pack of the 4-ounce jelly jars, mostly to give away as gifts, and this recipe fills around 10 of those jars). Keep extras in the freezer, good for a year or more. Very easy to make!

  1. Fill a quart jar (gently packed) with violet flowers, without flower stalks.
  2. Fill the jar with boiling water to the top and screw on the lid; let sit 24 hours.
  3. Get 6 8-ounce jelly jars, with inserts and lids, and sterilize them in a kettle in boiling water for 10 minutes; lay out on a towel to drain for a few minutes, then dry the outsides of the jars and lid components.
  4. Strain the infusion from the flowers using a sieve or cheesecloth, into a large pan.
  5. Measure out 4 cups of sugar and have ready.
  6. Add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir thoroughly, then add 1 package of powdered pectin, and bring to a full rolling boil to dissolve the pectin, stirring constantly.
  7. Add sugar to infusion/pectin mixture, mix thoroughly, and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar and prevent jelly from scorching. Boil HARD for 2-3 minutes while stirring constantly, then remove from heat.
  8. Skim off the foam into a “waste” bowl with a spoon, then ladle the jelly into the jars, leaving at least 1/8-inch space at the top of the jar.
  9. Screw on the lids tightly (using a towel to hold the hot jars) and let the jelly jars sit out on the counter until fully cooled.
  10. Store opened jars in the refrigerator and unopened ones in the freezer. The frozen jelly is good for a year or more.

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