by Mara Seaforest
(Fauquier County, Virginia)
Almost too pretty to eat -- almost!
Violet Jelly -- Beautiful and Delicious
You will need:
2 heaping cups of fresh wild violet petals; look for fully opened flowers, not partially opened buds, for better color and more intense flavor.
TIP: a wide hair-styling tool with several long straight pins spaced about ¼" apart makes quick work of harvesting.
2 C boiling water
¼ C well-strained, clear lemon juice
4 C sugar
3 oz liquid pectin (Certo, for example)
Wash petals well, drain and place in heat-proof glass or nonreactive bowl. Pour boiling water over the petals and let steep about two hours, covered.
Strain through a fine sieve, reserving the clear, purplish liquid or infusion. If not using immediately, refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Place jars and lids on rack in pan or stockpot deep enough to cover them with about two inches of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, keeping the jars hot until ready to fill.
To make the jelly, stir lemon juice and sugar into reserved infusion in a two-quart nonreactive or stainless steel pan. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
Add the liquid pectin and continue to boil two minutes, skimming any foam that may rise to the surface.
Ladle quickly into jars to within about 1/8 inch from the top; clean each rim and threads of the jar as it's filled, and place flat lid and ring on each before filling the next. Screw band on tightly and invert jar on tea towel for about five to 10 minutes.
Jars should seal and lids should pop shut within 10 minutes as they cool. If they do not seal, you can place them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes or place in the refrigerator. Sealed jars will last up to one year in a cool, dark place. Put any unsealed jelly in the refrigerator - it should keep about three weeks.
Makes four or five half-pint jars, or a bunch more of those little ones. Try a combination so you'll be able to provide more gifts to friends for the same amount of effort :)
Be sure to hold your jelly jars up to the sunlight when you're done, to admire how incredibly beautiful they are, because they are! Serve as you would any delicately flavored jelly, with little scones perhaps, or even as filling for a layered tea cake. Save a few violet blossoms to decorate the plates.