Intro: Ultra Violet Lilac and Wild Rose Jelly
This delicate jelly is made from a handful of spring blossoms. With the delicate floral flavor and a burst of sunshine like citrus, this jelly is a sweetly subtle treat that we wait all year for!
The brilliant, almost electric violet color is a direct result of the flowers we use in our jelly blend and this recipe contains absolutely no artificial colors!
Step 1: Springtime in Idaho
It's springtime in Idaho and this year's mild weather and deep soaking rains mean a bumper crop of beautiful flowers. We have a lilac bush in our backyard that is over 40 years old and produces the most delicate and beautiful lilac blossoms like clockwork every May, filling the yard with their delicate floral aroma. Unfortunately, those delicate blossoms only last a few days, so this year we decided to try to capture them in a jelly, allowing us to preserve that smell and the feeling of new spring for as long as possible.
Our yard is also full of other flowers, including the bright and cheerful wild rose and the shy and thoughtful violet. I gathered up a few handfuls of each and brought them inside to clean and prepare.
Step 2: Prepping Your Flowers
The first thing you need to do is make sure that your flowers are edible. Seriously...step number one... Do not move onto any other part of this recipe until you are 100% sure your flowers are safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.
I believe the variety of violets I used in this batch are called the "English Violet" which is also sometimes called the "Sweet Violet." We've had them growing in our yard for years, which is why I chose them, but really, any type of edible violet would be suitable. Be aware that some violets are a bit more bitter (but still edible) so adjust your sugar content to taste.
Once you know your flowers are safe to eat, you'll also want to make sure they're high quality. That means making sure you discard any brown or wilted flowers, stems, or undesirable bits. That also means making sure your flowers are washed and cleaned, especially if there is any possibility they came into contact with any pesticides or bug sprays.
Speaking of bugs, make sure you double check and remove any of those as well. I got lucky with the violets and roses, but we did find a few earwigs hiding in the lilac blossoms.
Because the process of making this jelly turns our normally brilliant flowers white, I decided to toss in a few dried butterfly pea flower blossoms I had on hand to help really punch up the final color (butterfly pea flowers are famous for their absolutely stunning and magical color properties...more on this in the coming steps!)
Once your flowers are cleaned and prepped, it's time to start making the jelly.
Step 3: Gather Your Ingredients and Start the Process
For this recipe you will need:
- 2 compressed cups edible flower blossoms (we used lilac, violets, wild roses and butterfly tea flowers)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2-3 small packets of unflavored powdered gelatin
- 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla
You'll also need
- large pot
- Large plastic jug or glass jar
- Coffee filter
As you can see from my first photo, the bulk of the flowers I gathered were the lilac blossoms, with a handful each of the rose petals, violets, and butterfly pea flowers tossed in for added variety in both color and flavor.
In a pot on your stove, bring your 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop in your flowers. Allow them to steep in the pot until the whole thing comes to room temperature.
Once they've cooled down, transfer your steeping flowers to a plastic jug or glass jar and place in the fridge to continue to steep for at least 2 hours and up to 24. You'll notice that the longer your flowers steep, the lighter they get and the darker your liquid will turn. Of course, this means that the longer they steep, the stronger your final jelly flavor will be. I let this batch soak for the full 24 hours.
Step 4: Straining and Boiling
Once you're done steeping your flowers, you'll need to separate them from the liquid. This is easily done by pouring them out over a fine mesh sieve. As you can see, my flowers are now almost completely void of color and my liquid is a gorgeous indigo blue/purple.
Transfer your drained liquid to your pot and return to the stove.
Scoop out 1/2 a cup of this liquid and set aside in a small bowl.
Add your sugar and your lemon juice to the rest of your liquid in the pot and watch the magic! As the lemon juice hits the liquid, it reacts with the naturally occurring anthocyanin pigment within the butterfly pea flower. The lemon juice changes the ph of the liquid, triggering the color change. It's a little bit of chemical magic! It also helps ensure that our lilac and violet jelly is...well, violet!
Bring the pot up to a boil over medium heat and cook only until the sugar is completely dissolved.
While the bulk of your flower liquid is cooking in the pot, sprinkle your gelatin over the small bowl of cold flower liquid you reserved from earlier and allow to bloom for 5 minutes. Now is the time to determine exactly how solid you want your jelly. For a spreadable, toast perfect jelly, add in just two packets of your powdered gelatin. To make a firmer, moldable, dessert jelly, I suggest 2 1/2 to 3.
As soon as the gelatin is fully bloomed, add that to your pot of hot flower liquid, turn off the heat, and stir until all the gelatin is also dissolved.
And for anyone looking to make this a vegan or vegetarian recipe, simply substitute powdered agar at a ratio of 1:1. The only big change you'll have to make if adding agar is to leave the pot on the stove and allow to boil for at least 60-90 seconds after adding the agar powder to ensure it's fully dissolved and activated.
Step 5: Let Me Clarify...
Once your sugar and gelatin are fully dissolved, you'll notice that your jelly has a light layer of foam on top of it. To get rid of that foam and ensure that your jelly is truly beautiful, I like to run it through a coffee filter. The easiest way to do this is to set the filter into your sieve over a bowl and just pour the hot flower liquid right on through.
Allow your liquid to completely filter and then transfer to glass jars and pop into your fridge for a few hours to firm up.
Step 6: Beautifully Delicious!
Congratulations! You should now have 2 cups of absolutely gorgeous and vibrant jelly lightly flavored with the taste of sunshine and springtime! This jelly is perfect on delicate pastries like crumpets and crepes and for a truly decadent treat, pop some into the microwave for about 15 seconds and drizzle over vanilla ice cream...
Of course, you can just do what I do and grab a spoon, pop open a jar, and eat it straight like it is.
Each batch should make approximately 2 cups of jelly and will last in your fridge for up to 2 weeks...but at the rate we eat this stuff, I'm not 100% sure as we've never actually been able to keep it around that long.
The best part of this recipe is, while there is just a short window of time each spring for us to gather enough lilac blossoms to make this version, you can easily adapt it to any edible flower! We are looking forward to a summer of dandelion jelly, clover flower jelly, hibiscus jelly, pansy jelly, more rose jelly, and lavender jelly. For a full article on the different types of edible violets as well as how they look (and other edible flowers you can use for this recipe), click here: https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/4133/
Seventh Prize in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest