Time flies. Every day the earth turns, each of us has only so many hours to feel the warmth of the sun before the dark descends. It seems like the further I get in life’s journey, the fewer hours are in the sun.
Spring is finally here, and summer right around the corner. It’s been a long, hard winter. I’m so ready to feel the sun. I wanted to collect dandelions yesterday. Last year I made dandelion jelly (When Life Gives You Dandelions), and it seemed like a good way to bring that spring feeling back. I must have collected 500 flowers last year. Yesterday…I don’t know where they went. All those flowers I’d seen in the rain last week were gone. Instead, I have violets.
Lots and lots of violets. I love them! They spread like weeds, and probably ruin the lawn, but they are spring to me. Lawns are overrated anyway! Goodbye dandelions; I’d be making violet jelly instead.
I thought about trying to convince my dear, loving children to go out and pick the flowers for me. Wouldn’t they love to go outside and harvest flowers, stooping and bending like itinerant laborers, rather than sitting in front of a laptop? No, I didn’t really think so either. That wouldn’t stop me from trying. What did stop me from recruiting more help was this: See these flowers?
These are violets. See how the leaves are heart-shaped, and the flowers look like someone sat on them? These are wild flowers that are totally edible.
Now see this one? This is periwinkle. Vinca Minor. It has longer, narrow leaves and perfect flowers. It’s also toxic. I don’t trust those kids to avoid the flowers that the dogs might have watered, never mind the poisonous plants!
So, I stooped and picked, over and over until I had 8 cups of flowers. Poured boiling water over them and set them aside. My friend Jan came over to help. We went out to lunch, did a litle shopping, returned home…and they had just enough time to bleed out their violetness into the water. After straining them and squeezing out all the flower juices, I had just about the right amount (3 1/2 cups) of liquid.
I used the recipe from Taste of Home. The only change I made was to mix the pectin with the sugar before mixing it into the liquid. It seems to mix in better this way.
I added 1/2 cup of lemon juice, then 4 Tablespoons of pectin mixed with 4 cups of sugar. That sounds like a lot of sugar, but it wasn’t as sweet as I’d expected. After they are thoroughly mixed, heat in a stainless pot until boiling. Boil hard for 1 minute, then process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
It’s a very nice jelly. I actually prefer it to the dandelion jelly. Avery tasted it first, and decided that she wanted to make “violet cookies”. We stayed up that night and made thumbprint cookies. She brought them to school as a peace offering to the kids in her class (This was a good idea, trust me). It got thumbs up from all the other samplers. If you have a field of violets mixed in with your lawn, then you really should consider making this jelly. It looks lovely, and tastes lovely. And I believe it might have healing properties for the soul. A cup of tea, and a toasted english muffin with a spoonful of violet jelly… if you close your eyes you can just feel the light touch of the sun again.