For the last several years I have drooled over my blogging friends' posts of wild violet jelly. These beautiful little flowers come and go quickly in early spring and I tend to be so busy gazing upon them and taking pictures that they are past their peak when I think about harvesting them. This year I remembered to go out just in time. I sat in the middle of our large patch of these native beauties, and took pictures while I picked.
We have made jams and jellies for years and it is always a great experiment. It seems that every time I use a recipe calling for pectin, no matter what the volume, the jellies never set up. Upon the suggestion of a friend last year I purchased River Cottage's Preserves Handbook. I cannot recommend a better book for the home preserver. The suggestion for pectin rich fruits to compliment the fruits, flowers, or herbs that are bring preserved is brilliant. Every jam or jelly that I have done with these recipes have set up beautifully, with no added pectin.
Our wild violet adventure has been much the same. I found from multiple sources the same basic recipe for violet jelly. They all called for making a violet tea of sorts, then adding sugar, lemon juice and pectin and boiling for 10 minutes. Alas, it was tasty, but a little too tart for our taste and it only partially set up. Since I remembered to harvest flowers early enough this year, we were able to do a round two, and I went back to my tried and true River Cottage book. I much prefer the methods in this book and the flavor is absolutely beautiful, though for this medium it turned out as a lovely rich syrup, a perfect cordial, not jelly.
Though I went in with the intent for jelly, I will stick to berries for that. Our state flower seems destined to be the flavoring for homemade sodas, with or without a splash of vodka, and I am perfectly OK with unintended perfection.
Wild Violet Cordial
3.2 lbs apples, rough cut
6 C violets, rinsed & packed cups
Sugar (by volume, see below)
7 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
Place apples and violets in a sauce pan and just cover with water. Bring to boil and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Place mixture in straining bag and separate liquid (this takes 2-3 hours, we hang the straining bag over a bowl and for this volume re purpose our honey strainer, our jelly bags were too small). Measure out your liquid and add it back to the saucepan with equal amounts of sugar. For me this was 9 1/2 Cups. Add the vinegar and boil until it reaches 220 F. Skim any scum (the violets had virtually none), bottle & enjoy!