I am not always an adventurous eater, but I do like to try historical foodstuffs, especially florals and plants that have gone from crop to weed. I have been known to pick dandelion greens and purslane from my yard for salads. At my old house, a bird planted a couple of random mulberry trees and I chose two and let them grow, because I love them, and I had a very old climbing rose with beautiful fragrant blossoms. Every year I would wait delightedly for May and June so I could make rose liqueur and mulberry liqueur and preserves. When we moved two summers ago, those plants were the only thing I missed about that house. Our new home has one stinky and not at all tasty rose and no fruit. (Yet.) But this spring it is awash in violets, so taking a page from the Victorians, I decided to try jelly, if for no other reason than to see what it tasted like. One can’t pick it up at the store around here.
Violet jelly is even more of a science experiment than regular jelly-making. The chemical that gives violets their signature bluepurple color is related to the one in red cabbage. It is acid/base reactive. To make the jelly, you start with a tea of violet blossoms, which comes out a rich aqua or blue depending on the color of the violets.
It requires acid to make it gel, so I used lemon juice. Between that and the citric acid in the pectin packet, the color change is immediate and dramatic.
It is quite delicious. A very delicate flavor, sweet and bright from the lemon juice, but faintly fruity and floral. Not a robust flavor at all, perfect for scones or an english muffin. It is so lovely, too.