Tuesday, May 3, 2011

spring in a jar

We finally had some sunshine and some color out our door, a welcome sight after all the cold and rain that's been hanging around. I've been loving the violets that fill the yard here, and after using them to adorn the birthday girl's cake, I've been thinking up other ways to put them to use. That is how late one afternoon, Daniel and I were found out in the grass, plucking up the lovely purple flowers.

We picked just over two cups of flowers and prepared them for making violet jelly. Each step along the way was just as pretty as the flowers themselves.

We steeped the flowers in two cups of boiling water for a few hours. When the petals were strained out, this lovely blue liquid remained:

From here, we followed the directions for making jelly found in the box of Pomona's Universal Pectin. I must say, I love this pectin. Most pectins call for such large amounts of sugar, necessary to create the thick jell that accompanies preserves. Pomona's uses calcium water to activate the pectin (the powder to make it comes in the box), meaning you can add as much or as little sweetener as you'd like (we like using raw honey).

When we added the recommended amount of lemon juice, our blue water turned into a beautiful shade of purple.

Our two cups of flowers made two jars of purple jelly.

The next mission was to make something delicious to go with this jelly. I wasn't sure what to expect from the violet jelly, but was pleasantly surprised at its light flavor. I didn't want to spread it on something too sweet or strong for fear of losing that delicate flavor. We decided a favorite whole wheat bread would do the trick.

photo courtesy of Sophia

The bread was the perfect match for this light, sweet spread. All together, it tastes just like sunshine and spring.


Laura said...

Amanda, this is beautiful. My kids love to eat violets in the yard as they see them, but it's never occurred to me to make jelly with them! I also have lavender that I never use in the kitchen... Can I make lavender muffins or scones? Will the delicate flavor hold up, do you think?

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

I've seen lots of recipes that use lavender, but I've yet to use ours for anything culinary (mostly because the taste of lavender, much like jasmine, just makes me think of soap!). I have a recipe for a lavender shortbread I've been meaning to try... Want to come over and bake?

Marina said...

You guys do the coolest stuff... I never would have thought of this. How fun!

denise said...

You inspired Miki to go out and pick some violets. She then made violet tea with them. Watching the blue turn to purples when adding the lemon was fun!

Jolie said...

My mom used to use candied (sugared) violets for decorations on cakes. I think I have a cookbook somewhere with recipes for violets, I will have to check when we get home.

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

So glad Miki had fun with this and that we were able to inspire her!

Jolie, I have heard of candied flowers before but have yet to try them. Someone else mentioned making violet syrup, too.
I just might have to give those both a try before the flowers fade!

Lindsay said...

Wow, I never would have thought of making violet jam. I must try this! Your photos are gorgeous. Thanks for the inspiration!

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Glad to share, Lindsay! If you get a chance to make some, let me know how it turns out.