4/01/2010

Violet Freezer Jam

At Long Creek Herb Farm we've been making a batch of violet jam every spring for the past 25 years or more. You may not think of violets when you think of a great tasting jam, but you should. This is really good, and it's become a tradition for us.

This afternoon Josh saw me tinkering with the lawnmower, getting ready for the first mowing of the year. I'd not even thought about the violets scattered all over the yard. I'd been focused all day on getting my PowerPoint "Eat Your Landscape" program ready (it's a digital slide show for folks who don't work with such things). The program is for the Madison, Wisconsin Herb Society, where I'll be speaking later this month. I'd even put in a slide of violets in the "edible weeds" section, but it still didn't dawn on me that when I started up the mower, I'd be mowing down a few thousand happy, purple violets.

Josh was thinking ahead and came inside with a basketful of violet blossoms. "Do you remember where Gay Jones' violet jam recipe is you published in The Ozarks Herbalist?" I did, and found it. The recipe was given to me by my friend, Gay, a gardener friend at Creek Bluff Farm near Bull Creek, MO. She'd seen my violet jelly recipe in an earlier Herbalist and thought I might like this one, too. I do, it's better than any violet jelly recipe I've used and she was happy for me to publish it. The recipe quickly became our favorite and we make a batch every spring and keep it in the freezer. Josh made the jam, I stayed out of the way (for a change).

For several years, 7 to be exact, I published a quarterly newsletter, The Ozarks Herbalist. In 1987 I bought my first Macintosh computer and began publishing my 14 page newsletter. I had subscribers in several states and it was through my writings there that I met a lot of great people. And it was that newsletter that provided the opportunity to write for The Herb Companion and The Ozarks Mountaineer magazines, which I still write for. The Ozarks Herbalist was intended to connect herb clubs, classes, events and people, and it accomplished that and more. I wrote, created the artwork, did the typesetting, layout, assembly and mailing. The experiences with that project is what prompted me to begin writing and publishing my herb books, something I continue to this day.

This jam's easy and quick to make, it only takes about 10 minutes, not counting the time picking the blossoms, and you keep it in the freezer. The flavor is concentrated, so you only use a little bit on biscuits, sugar cookies, fancy tea sandwiches (in case you're in an herb club). Don't waste it on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, though, it's too good and too subtle for that.

The ingredients you'll need:
 2 cups, loosely packed violet blossoms, without stems
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
3/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water (a second time)
1 pkg. Sure-Jel pectin

Directions: Put 3/4 cup water and the violet blossoms in a blender and blend well. Add the lemon juice and notice how the violet paste turns a richer purple as soon as the lemon juice hits the dull purple paste. Add the sugar and blend again to dissolve. Next, stir the package of pectin into the second 3/4 cup water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil, continuing to boil hard for 1 minute. Pour the hot pectin into the blender with the violet paste. Blend again and pour into jars or small storage containers. Let cool, then cover with lids and store in the freezer. The jam will turn a deeper purple as it sets up. You can dip out the jam whenever you want some.

So that's what happened today, the first mowing of the lawn of the year, several hundred violet blossoms saved from in front of the mower, and a batch of violet freezer jam to celebrate springtime.

And, it tastes like spring, too! It's a tradition we like to keep.

Happy gardening!

8 comments:

compost in my shoe said...

Wonderful shot having all those picked violets. And the jelly looks delicious.

Catherine said...

Looks lovely and delicious!
I think I'll go violet hunting this weekend ;) .

Lindy said...

Sounds wonderful! Unfortunately violets do not grow here in the Sonoran Desert. I'll just have to wait until I return home to northern MI to make this delicious looking jam.

Lindy

Charlie said...

Thanks for the recipe, Jim, cant wait to try it. just saw the first violet down here at Crosses this morning!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Honestly Jim, you and Josh NEVER cease to amaze me.
I beg you to save a taste of the violet jam for me!! Please. I've made violet jelly, but it lacked much taste. We'll see how this recipe works out for me.

Thinking of you and Josh. And oh, when WILL you be in Madison?? I am going to be there this month too, but I'll be doing tv and working at schools and in the Lands' End store promoting Earth Day. Wouldn't it be GREAT if we somehow landed there at the same time and got to catch up on life?

Sending love,

Sharon

Jim Long said...

Hi Sharon,
I'll be in Madison, April 23-25, doing a radio and a very brief t.v. appearance. If you're in town during that time, I will see that you have some violet jam from the Ozarks!

Rita Heikenfeld said...

Hi, Jim,
I've been a fan of yours for years. I've been making violet jellies and vinegars for many years, too and this year will try the jam. Last year I made the loveliest rose petal lavender jam. It still looks beautiful.
Rita Heikenfeld, Herbalist
Abouteating.com

h20sfine said...

THANK YOU X 3!!! I had a dear friend that shared her violet candy with me. We ordered it from New Orleans -- a southern lady thing. She died at 52, and I still miss her. I plan to make this recipe for me and several of our friends in honor/memory of Kathy. And thanks for the happy/sad tears.