The child should learn to recognize and gather wild foods such as green salad herbs, berries and nuts of the hedgerows, and “fool-proof” mushrooms such as puffballs and orange chanterelles, though they should not be allowed to eat such foods until parents have passed them as safe. And they should learn to gather firewood and cut turf for the home fires.
– Juliette de Bairacli Levy
One of the best things about this time of year are all the blooming flowers! The yard is full of gorgeous violets, dandelions, tulips, jonquils and daffodils. Our favorite way to celebrate is to make jelly out of our dandelion flowers and violet flowers.
Normally I like to use raw sugar but when I make violet jelly, I sometimes will get a processed white sugar, just so the results will be spectacular. It really makes a beautifully colored jelly.
This is my oldest daughter’s favorite jelly. So much so that she will gladly pick the flowers all day long to have enough for the recipe. She has recently taken over making it herself and even taught a friend how to make it.
The recipe is basically the same for both, all you need are some volunteers to pick a bunch of violet or dandelion flowers. If you are using the dandelion flowers, be sure to remove the green sepals or the jelly will have a bit of bitterness to it.
4 cups freshly picked violet flowers (remove the stems)
4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
1 package liquid pectin
8 cups sugar
1/2 gallon jar w/lid
9 – 10 jelly jars
Place the violets in a 1/2 gallon jar. Cover with boiling water and let steep for 12 hours (up to 24 hours) in the fridge. Check out the color of the water! It’s a bluey-green color, so pretty. It’s going to change though!!
When the violets are done steeping, make sure you have sterilized jelly jars ready to go. This recipe will make about 8 or 9 jelly jars worth of jelly. Place the lids in a pot of hot water and cover.
Strain off the violets and place the liquid in a stock pot. Add the lemon juice. Wow! The color changes instantly to violet. Pretty neat, isn’t it?! Ask mom and dad to talk about chemical reactions with you!
Add the pectin and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the sugar and boil vigorously for 3 minutes, skimming as needed.
Pour into jelly jars (also known as half pint jars). Wipe off the rims and place hot lids on top. Inverting them (turning them upside down) can help them to seal quicker. Leave them inverted for at least 7 minutes.
Now, it’s time to enjoy them on some fresh homemade bread!
More fun with violet and dandelion
Violet and dandelion jelly is just one way to enjoy these delightful spring flowers. Both herbs have lots of medicinal uses and each can be eaten raw in salads. Try making violet or dandelion leaf vinegar. Simply add some leaves to a jar, fill with apple cider vinegar and let it sit for 2 weeks. The vinegar will extract the vitamins and minerals and can be used any way you use apple cider vinegar in cooking. Next week’s newsletter will give you some great ideas on how to use infused vinegars!
Do you use violet and dandelion flowers or greens in your daily meals? What’s your favorite way to use them?