Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wild Violet Jelly

We've been having so much fun this week discovering that some of the plants growing wild outside our front door can be used to make pretty and tasty treats. After making the dandelion jelly and reading more about foraging, I stumbled upon a recipe for wild violet jelly and realized that the pretty little purple flowers growing in our front yard are wild violets. A reward for having an unmanicured lawn!  

The thing is, while looking for wild asparagus, chickweed, or amaranth might sound exciting to me, Jo and Tess (especially Jo) would never go near those, probably not in the wild, let alone on a plate. So my only hope of truly roping the girls in (to not just the foraging, but also the eating) is to look for flowers we can eat, or things we can turn into something sweet. And these little violets are as pretty as it gets, and can be used many ways. To make sure you are picking a violet, look for heart shaped leaves and make sure the flower has five petals.

We spent a few hours outside playing and picking the flowers. Once we'd collected enough, we repeated the steps we'd taken to make the dandelion jelly. We separated the flowers from the stems, gave them a little water bath, patted them dry, boiled them in a cup of water for 10 minutes, strained them, mixed the infusion with sugar, a little lemon juice (and this is a really fun part so make sure your kids watch; the blue/dark purple infusion will magically become a very lovely light purple) and pectin, and cooked it for a little bit.  Find a more specific recipe and instructions for canning here. I'm going to try canning one of these days, but not today, and anyway we didn't collect enough flowers to make enough jelly to can this time. Find yourself a little patch of these flowers and try out a few recipes with them (more inspiration here)!

The color of the infusion before lemon juice.

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