Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Violent Jelly. Not a typo.

For some god-forsaken-reason, I decided to make violet jelly last night. I've never made jelly before, and as I said to John at the end of this endeavor,

"As far as I'm concerned, the only reason I'm ever canning again is in the face of certain starvation." 

Because, for real. It is so hard/annoying/has a lot of steps. Also, the recipe I followed weas clearly written by a dyslexic schizophrenic, which made it SO HARD to follow the instructions!!! (Granted, I was also kind of sleep deprived and pretty hungry, but let's just assume she's certifiable instead...)

Oh my god.

That said, there is a certain satisfaction is making your own jelly, and now I've got enough of it to wait out the apocalypse, if and when it comes. So that's good news.

Here's the recipe I followed:

You will need:
2 heaping cups of fresh violet petals (see note below)
2 C boiling wter
1/4 C well-strained, clear lemon juice
4 C sugar
3 oz liquid pectin (Certo)

NOTE: Look for fully opened flowers, not partially opened buds, for better

color and more intense flavor. The violets you want are the wild violets that grow in many parts of the world - there are many varieties, hopefully some are accessible to you. Please choose violets that have NOT been sprayed. )

Wash petals well, drain and place in heat-proof glass or nonreactive bowl. Pour boiling water over petals and let steep from 30 minutes to 24
hours. It usually takes about two hours for violets. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving the clear, purplish liquid or infusion. If not using
immediately, refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Place jars and lids on rack in pan or stockpot deep enough to cover them with about two inches of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, keeping the jars hot until ready to fill.

To make the jelly, stir lemon juice and sugar into reserved infusion in a two-quart nonreactive or stainless steel pan. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add the liquid pectin and continue to boil two minutes, skimming any foam that may rise to the surface.

Ladle quickly into jars to within about 1/8 inch from the top; clean each rim and threads of the jar as it's filled, and place flat lid and ring on each before filling the next.Place the jars in a hot-water canning bath and boil for 10 minutes (or the appropriate time for your area). After canning, carefully check to make sure the lids have all sealed. 
Sealed jars will last up to one year in a cool, dark place. Put any unsealed jelly in the refrigerator. it should keep about three weeks. Makes four or five half-pint jars. The flavor and color will vary somewhat due to growing conditions and season - that is part of the joy of working with plants, is the endless variety! The taste is delicate, green/floral.

If you've had the misfortune of making jelly before, you might feel like these directions are relatively straightforward. However, if you don't know what "a hot-water canning bath" is, essentially these directions read a little like, "Make it." and then "Cook it." And you have no idea why you've been simmering your empty jars in two inches of water, which is not what I was supposed to be doing. Maybe I'm just a bad instruction-follower. Let's assume the blame lands on me, because this lovely, earthy "Prairieland Herb" lady probably doesn't deserve my ire. 

Either way, I came away with some pretty tasty jelly, and you can bet your bonnet, if you come anywhere near my house in the next few weeks, you're leaving with a jar of jelly in hand. And yes, oddly I did just have those pretty little canning labels in my cabinet. I don't know why, but I do know that it has fueled my believe that I really should never throw anything away. 

You just never know when you're going to need decorative canning labels! 

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