When the world shut down in the spring of 2020, we were all looking for things to do, ways to keep our minds occupied, and simple pleasures to find peace and enjoyment. Many of us turned to our kitchens. We learned new cooking skills and tried new recipes. Some of us indulged in goodies we would not typically have eaten. There is comfort in food.
When we lose a loved one, friends, family, and neighbors bring us meals to sustain us during a difficult time. Often our kitchen counters are loaded with casseroles, sweets, loaves of bread, and platters. Delivering food to bring comfort to those who are hurting or in need is what we do as a culture. Often, nothing can be done to ease someone’s pain, so we bring food as comfort. It’s a simple way to show we care.
In the spring of 2020, I taught my bean about the home canning process. We dug out our cute little jelly jars, the enamelware water bath canner, lids and rings, the fun little magnet do-hickey that pulls the caps out of the simmering water bath, and the jar tongs. I showed her how to sterilize the jars, and we discussed the importance of sanitation when home canning. We discussed food-borne diseases and how nobody wants a case of botulism. We also had a lot of fun.
Because going to the grocery store was not an option, we got creative with our recipes. I discovered a wild violet jelly recipe during my many internet searches. Living on a farm, we have a lot of ground that is undisturbed by human cultivation. The Bean and I took little baskets and combed the woods and fields for wild violets. We returned with more flowers than necessary but had fun foraging for them.
The Bean worked alongside me, completing the jelly-making with beautiful results. Our homemade violet jelly had a beautiful violet hue and tasted like floral-infused honey. GramBarb was staying with us at the time, and she made homemade bread to pair with our jelly. We delivered homemade bread and violet jelly to close friends and family to add a bright spot to uncertain times. After all, food is comfort.
On this gorgeous spring day, I would like to share the wild violet jelly recipe with you. It’s a good excuse to get outside, walk in the sunshine, pick pretty flowers, and make something pretty and spring-like. Be sure to pick your blooms from areas that aren’t sprayed with pesticides and aren’t used as your pet’s restroom.
Wild Violet Jelly
2 Cups Wild Violet Flowers, destemmed and washed in cool water
4 Cups Boiling Water
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
4 Cups Sugar
1 Box Powdered Pectin
Place two cups of violet flowers without the stems in a one-quart wide-mouth canning jar. Pour four cups of boiling water over the violets. Allow the violet tea to cool, then place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. The longer it steeps, the more flavor and color your jelly will have. The violet tea will appear green, don’t panic.
Strain the violet tea through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. This should yield 3 1/2 – 4 cups of liquid.
Pour the strained violet tea into a saucepan.
Add ¼ cup of lemon juice to the tea. The color of the tea will change from green to purple. This step is pretty cool.
Add one package of powdered pectin, stir, and bring it to a boil.
Add four cups of sugar and return the jelly mixture to a boil. Continue boiling for 1-2 minutes. The jelly mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon at this point.
Remove the jelly mixture from the heat, stir for five minutes, and then skim the foam from the top with a large spoon.
Pour the jelly mixture into sterilized jelly jars, leaving ¼ inch of head space at the top of the jar. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel. Place hot lids onto the jars and secure them with a canning ring.
Process the jars in a hot water bath canner for ten minutes.
Remove the jars from the water bath and place them on a towel on a flat surface for twenty-four hours until the jars are sealed and set.
Use within six months, or the jelly loses its beautiful violet hue.
Yields 5 half-pint jars
If you are unfamiliar with home canning, I recommend working with someone experienced, referencing a canning book, or finding instructions online. Don’t be intimidated. Do practice cleanliness. Sanitation is critical. Making wild violet jelly is a simple, easy, and delicious recipe that is fun to make with kids. I hope you enjoy making it, eating it, and sharing it.
On this gorgeous spring day, stay safe, be smart, make some wild violet jelly while they are in season, and keep washing your hands.