Please Save the Wild Violets! Beauty can be Useful!

This week’s Deb Hart-Serafini, creator of PermaPaleo is back to talk about her beloved weed – the beautiful violet.

These little beauties (wild violets above) get such a mixed reaction from my neighbors that I set out to encourage my them to see them in a more positive and creative way.

Personally, I think my little violet patch is as beautiful as anything I could plant as a ground cover. But its uses aren’t limited to mere ornamental ones. You can use the leaves and flowers to brighten up your spring salads and make tea.

Of all its uses, what I really found most striking was the beautiful and exotic wild violet jelly I could make from it!

So, a few disclaimers here: I am Paleo and I eat very little sugar and no white sugar and this recipe is made with white sugar. Also, I have never made jelly before. Sugar is not just a sweetener in jellies and jams, it helps the mixture jell. So I am going to describe the process that I used, but I will give some resources that you can use to adapt the recipe to be more Paleo-friendly by using other sweeteners like honey.

Let me give credit where credit is due, the recipe I followed is from The Nerdy Farm Wife blog, and you can find it here Homemade Violet Jelly .

  • 2 to 2+1/2 cups wild violets
  • “Sure Jell” or your choice of sweetener
  • 3+1/2 cups “sugar”
  • Canner or Dutch Oven
  • Juice of (1) lemon
  • Mason Jars

Violet Jelly Recipe (with no fancy equipment)

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Step 1: Borrow children
(or use your own)

I started with these lovely blossoms and it really helps if you have or can borrow some children to help you pick 2-21/2 cups of violets.

I use the neighbor’s kids and they get the finished product as payment for their efforts.

Step 2: Infuse blossoms in boiling water

Next you are going to boil water and pour 2-½ cups over the blossoms to create an infusion. I did this in a glass jar.

(I never throw away glass-it has so many uses!)

The infusion will turn a lovely bluish-indigo color. Never fear-we are not done yet and the desired violet color is coming in the next step.

Step 3: Add lemon juice

I don’t know why this step works, but I hope one of the more chemistry-minded readers will help us out. You are going to add the juice of one good-sized lemon and presto-changeo, you will get this lovely violet hue.

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Step 4: Sterilize mason jars

Here comes the more labor intensive bits:

You need to boil you mason jars and lids for (10) ten minutes to sterilize them.

I’ve never made jelly before and I don’t have a canning pot or a rack so I did this in a cast iron dutch oven! However, for best results, get yourself the right equipment for canning.

I, however was just in the mood and determined to make this jelly. Sometimes, we just make-do, right?

Be sure the water inside your Dutch oven is around (2) two-inches above the top of the jars so it does a thorough autoclave job!

Step 5: Add sweeteners

If you are using white sugar as your sweetener, use the “original” Sure-Jell as your pectin.

If you decide to try other sweeteners, it is important to use the low-sugar version of Sure-Jell.

The directions on the package will read:

Mix water and pectin (Sure-Jell) in small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 1 min. Add to “fruit (in our case violets) mixture”; stir 3 min. or until most of the sugar is dissolved. (A few sugar crystals may remain.)

Step 6: “Process” the jellies

Once the Sure-Jell and violet infusion is prepared, ladle it into the clean jars and seal.

Return the sealed jars into the boiling water bath or canner (in my case, the Dutch oven with its lid) for (5) five minutes.

Depending on your elevation, your processing time may vary. Five minutes is the standard processing time for jellies if you live in a 0-1000 ft. elevation.

Remove and cool.

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Here are the finished jars. I gave them all to my neighbors and friends to lure them onto the weed-loving path.

I sure hope this will be the gateway gift! If I can make this, anyone can. Mine turned out great and I don’t even have the right equipment!

Do be sure that your lids sealed properly for food safety. That is easy, just press down on the top, if it springs back-it didn’t seal properly. Don’t panic-just put in the fridge and eat it up. The jars that are sealed properly don’t need to be refrigerated until you open.

Please love your weeds, they make beautiful gifts.

Learn more about Deb’s quest to bring Clean Water to Liberia here

Deb Hart-Serafini

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