Sweet Violet Velly (Jelly)4
In the year or so that I’ve been blogging I haven’t spent much time talking about foraging although it’s a topic that interests me greatly. In general, foraging (as it pertains to food) is the act of making use of (exploiting) naturally occurring (wild) resources. Foods found while foraging are often things that used to be eaten many generations ago but have somehow been forgotten in the area of microwave meals and processed foods. A forager is could be described as a cross between an opportunist with a foodie! I’ve very pleased that today we get to talk about foraging… and the surprisingly sweet results of this week’s foraging adventure.
It all started when I noticed a Facebook friend talking about making jelly from sweet violets. The cute little purple flowers on her page looked an awful lot like the cute little purple flowers I spy all over the “Woods” (wooded section of our 1 acre property) each spring. After close examination I determined that they are in fact violets – cool! After even more digging, I discovered that both violet flowers and leaves are edible and the entire plant has health benefits. To name a few, violets can be used as:
- A sedative, to help you relax or sleep
- A laxative
- A diuretics to address high blood pressure
- A relief for coughing
- An anti-inflammatory and painkiller, especially for joint pain
- A treatment for various skin diseases
- A source of antioxidants, especially beta carotene and vitamin C (140 ml of violet leaves has the same amount of vitamin C as four oranges!)
Even with all of those exemplary health benefits to boast, do you want to know the best part about violets? They are growing – uncultivated and for free – in my backyard. No work. Lots of benefits. Win.
So what’s a girl to do with these edible flowers? My initial introduction to the edible nature of violets came via a Facebook post about violet velly (jelly) so I determined that would be the best place to start. (Plus, I’ve never made jelly before so I was looking forward to adding that learning experience to my endeavor.) But in the process of all my violet research, I uncovered several other ways to make use of this free foraging resource. This list is not all-inclusive, but here are some other ways I’m hoping to experiment with violet blooms and leaves:
- Honey and Violet Leaf Cough Syrup
- Violet Extract (similar to the homemade vanilla extract I made a few months ago)
- Violet syrup (a common European use for violets)
- Violet Vinaigrette
- Violet Sugar (for decorating cakes and cookies without artificial dye)
- Violet Leaf Balm
- Violet Tea
I’m not sure how much longer these pretty petals will last so I intend to harvest as many blossoms and leaves as I can before the week is over. Whatever I don’t have time to use fresh I’ll plan to dehydrate for future use. Meanwhile, take a gander at the violet velly I made yesterday – my very first batch of jelly ever! Ain’t it perty? We tried some this morning and Ryan and I both agreed that it’s quite tasty.
Yield: 4 ½ cup jars or 2 12 oz jars
- 4 cups pesticide-free fresh violet flower petals
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 package pectin (1.75 oz)
- 2 cups sugar
1. Rinse and drain flower petals. Place in heat-proof glass bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and allow to steep overnight, or for up to 24 hours.
2. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve: use a spoon to press all the liquid from the plant material (compost or discard the flowers when you’re through). The liquid will have a greenish or blueish tint at this point. You can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
3. Combine strained liquid with lemon juice in the saucepan. It will turn purple. Whisk in the pectin and the sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, whisking to ensure the sugar and pectin dissolve thoroughly, then turn heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes (or until the jelly has reduced a bit and thickened).
4. Skim off any foam and then ladle into your clean, hot and sterile jars, leaving 1/8″ head space. Wipe lids and screw on the the rings, then process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes.
5. Remove jars and allow to cool for 24 hours.