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
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.