4/05/2012

Violet Jam

Blue Violets and henbit.

Depending upon how you view it, the violet can be a welcome harbinger of spring, or a weedy pest. Our friend, the late Betty Wold, despised violets. "They're a constant battle, they're trying to take over my whole garden!" I heard her say often. And she's right, they have the ability to spread rapidly. If you look at the little seed pods closely, you'll see each pod is packed with dozens and dozens of seed. Should you lightly bump it, the seeds leap out in every direction from a natural spring-like mechanism. Next year, you will have hundreds of little plants where those seed fell.
'Freckles'

But the violet is so innocent you can't help but like having them around. I have 3 distinctly different ones in my garden, one called, 'Freckles,' aptly named for its freckled appearance. One is 'Parma' which came from our friend, Bertha Reppert, many years ago. Her entire front yard was almost a carpet of Parma violets each spring (these are the commercial variety that were often sold in England a century ago). And the other one in my garden is simply our native blue spring violet.


Back in the late 1980s I was publishing a little quarterly newsletter, The Ozarks Herbalist. In it I published herb stories, information about plants, and recipes. I had published a violet jelly recipe that Billy Joe Tatum had given me, and in response a subscriber to my publication, wrote to tell me of what she thought was a better recipe. Her farm was called Creek Bluff Farm, so I named the recipe for her location and published it in the 1988 spring edition of The Ozarks Herbalist, with her permission of course. If you still have violets and want a very tasty jam for your summertime toast or muffins, I highly recommend this recipe. It's the best tasting one I've ever used.

This jam freezes well.

Creek Bluff Farm Violet Jam

Gather 1 well-packed cup of violet blossoms, without stems and put them into a blender.
Add:
3/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon (don’t use bottled)
Blend well to make a paste.
Add:
2 1/2 cups sugar, blending to dissolve sugar
Empty blender ingredients into sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Add the contents of 1 package of powdered pectin and boil hard for 1 full minute.
Pour into small jars, up to about 1/2 inch of the top. Attach lids, let cool, then store in refrigerator or freezer. The flavor is highly concentrated and delicious!
You will be surprised how intense the violet flavor is in this jam.
You may or may not know that violet leaves are ok to eat, as well. Small ones in salad, larger ones in cooked greens. If they're going to be prolific in the garden, make a quiche from the leaves and jam and jelly from the flowers. It's one of the pleasures of springtime.

7 comments:

Portia Little said...

This jam looks delightful. I had no idea violets were edible. I love their cheery little faces.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this! YAY for Spring!

Lissa Faith said...

looks yummy! Violets are the only thing that seems to survive by the driveway. So they are a keeper for me

ReaderWoman said...

Oh Jim! This looks fantastic - I am going to plant violets just so I can make this! :)

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. My Mother sent your link to me, now I enjoy it as well as her.

Wished I could have seen Bill Clinton's face when asked to do
Mrs. Tatum bidding.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

I first heard about Violet Jam while reading Old Farmer's Almanac many years ago. It was a pioneer staple, since violets are high in Vitamin C.

I have a question. I've read not to eat flowers close to the road because car exhaust settles on them, but how close is close?

My yard is above the road between 1 and 3 feet (the road slopes), and I would like to plant them in my front yard, which is more wide than deep.

Thank you,
Terry

Anonymous said...

Also I wonder how long I should process these in a water bath canner?

I found a recipe for Jelly, which says process for 10 minutes, but I don't know if the jam (having the petals) should be processed longer...

Thanks again,
Terry