Learn how to make a beautiful purple violet jelly from the flower petals of edible wild violets.
If you find your yard covered in wild violets each spring or like to forage for these edible flowers this violet jelly recipe is for you. If you've ever made mint jelly, the process for making flower jelly is very similar.
I’ve written about my love for these dainty spring flowers and shared a few of my favorite ways to use violets before. Make sure to check out my violet syrup recipe and learn how to use it to make color-changing violet lemonade or cocktails. Then hop over to my violet sugar recipe to learn this simple technique for making edible flower sugars for decorating cookies or cakes.
Violet flowers can be found in colors ranging from blue or purple, which are the most common, to white and even yellow. While all flowers of the Viola genus are edible, you’ll want to pick only blue or purple violets for this recipe to extract that beautiful violet color from the flowers.
Table of contents
What You’ll Need
- Blue or purple violet petals
- Boiling water
- Lemon juice
- White sugar
- Low sugar pectin
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Violet Jelly
Step 1: Pick Violets
First, you’ll need to pick enough flowers to equal 40g or 2 loosely packed cups of violet blossoms. Just pick the flower heads, not the stems, or you’ll have to remove the stems later.
Once you have picked enough fresh flowers, rinse them in a bowl of water to remove any soil particles or bugs that may be hiding in the petals.
Step 2: Make Violet Infusion
Then place the violet flowers into a clean quart size canning jar and cover them with boiling water to create a violet infusion aka violet tea. Cover the jar and let the violets steep for at least 30 minutes. If you want to do this step ahead of time, you can refrigerate the violet tea once it has cooled to room temperature for up to 3 days before proceeding.
As soon as the boiling water hits the violet petals you’ll see the water start to turn blue as the color from the petals is extracted. The petals will eventually lose their color completely as they steep in the hot water.
Step 3: Sterilize Canning Jars
When you’re ready to make the jelly sterilize five 4 oz. mason jars and lids in simmering water for at least 10 minutes. You don't need to sterilize the ring seals.
Step 4: Cook Violet Jelly
Meanwhile, strain the dark blue tea through a fine-mesh strainer or sieve into a saucepan, pressing the flowers with the back of a spoon to extract as much of the tea as possible. Discard blossoms.
Stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the violet infusion. The color will change from blue to purple with the addition of an acid like lemon juice.
In a small bowl mix together ½ a packet or 25g of powdered low-sugar pectin with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Then stir that mixture into the violet infusion.
Bring the violet mixture to a full rolling boil aka hard boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in the remaining sugar and return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and skim off any foam with a spoon.
Step 5: Fill Jelly Jars
Ladle jelly immediately into the sterile jars, filling them to within ¼ inch of the openings. Use a canning funnel to avoid drips.
Wipe rims and screw top threads clean then cover each jar with a sterile lid.
Screw the ring seals finger tight, being careful not to over-tighten the seals. You want air to be able to escape and not build up pressure, which can happen if the seal is too tight.
Step 6: Process Jelly in a Boiling Water Bath
Place jars into a boiling water bath on an elevated rack in a water bath canner or a deep stockpot with a round wire rack placed at the bottom of the pot. You need enough water to cover the jelly jars by 1 to 2 inches. If needed add more boiling water. Cover the canner or pot with a lid and bring the water to a gentle rolling boil. Process the jellies for 5 minutes, adjusting the time for altitudes over 1,000 feet. See the altitude processing guide below.
Turn off the stove top then remove the jars with canning tongs and transfer them upright to the quarter sheet pan or onto a towel to cool completely. As the jars cool you may hear the vacuum seals make an audible popping sound.
Once they are cool check the seals by pressing the centers of the lids with your finger. If the lid springs back up it is not sealed and needs to be refrigerated.
Remove the ring seals and store unopened violet jellies in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. Once a jar is opened, refrigerate it and use the homemade jelly up within 3 weeks.
Hint: Watch the step-by-step video below.
Tips for Foraging Wild Violets
Wild violets fall under the Viola genus with Viola sororia or common blue violet being one of the most common varieties found here in New England. Viola pedata or bird’s foot violet is another common wild violet variety found in the US. Viola odorata or sweet violet is a variety known for its sweet scent and is commonly found throughout Europe and Asia. Check out this comprehensive list of the violet species to find a variety that grows near you.
Wild violets are easily identifiable by their 5 petalled flowers and dark green heart-shaped leaves. They are low-growing plants that prefer fertile soil and are commonly found in meadows, pastures, lawns, and at the edges of wooded areas.
Always use caution when foraging for wild edible plants. Make sure to identify the plant correctly by referencing guidebooks and asking an experienced forager to confirm a plant's identity.
Note of caution: African violets (Saintpaulias spp) are common house plants that are not edible at all and should not be confused with wild violets.
- Large mason jar or quart jar
- Jelly jars with new lids
- Boiling-water canner or deep-sided stockpot
- Canning tongs
- Large stainless steel saucepan or enamel saucepan
- Small fine mesh strainer
Processed jars of jellies are shelf-stable for up to 1 year if stored properly in a cool, dry, and dark area. Refrigerator jelly or jelly that hasn't been water bath processed needs to be refrigerated and should be used within 3 weeks.
Guide to Processing Jelly at High Altitudes
At altitudes above 1,000 feet, increase the jelly boiling water bath processing time as indicated below.
- 1,001-3000 feet (306-915 meters): add 5 minutes
- 3,001-6000 feet (916-1830 meters): add 10 minutes
- 6,001-8,000 feet (1831-2440 meters): add 15 minutes
- 8,001-10,000 feet (2441-3050 meters): add 20 minutes
Why Does the Color Change?
Blue and purple violets are ph indicators, meaning their color can change in the presence of acid. Their naturally blue color indicates they are alkaline or have a high pH level. If they are mixed with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar the solution will change color from blue to pink, indicating that the pH has been lowered.
Other Edible Flowers to Use
If you can’t source fresh wild violets where you live or are reading this out of violet season, you can use this same method to make flower jellies out of other edible flowers.
Other edible flowers that can also change color like violets include Muscari or grape hyacinths, Malva sylvestris or blue malva, and Clitoria ternatea or butterfly-pea flowers. These fresh or dried flowers can be used in the same way as wild violets in this recipe to make a similar colored flower jelly.
Purple lilacs and wisteria are both edible and would be good options that are in season soon after violets. Wild roses or beach roses would be lovely to use and would impart a beautiful fuschia hue to jelly. Or try using dandelions to make yellow-hued dandelion jelly.
Violet jelly is sweet with a mild floral flavor.
Pectin is a natural gelling agent made from fruits and vegetables. Commercially packaged pectin is made primarily from apple pulp and citrus fruit skins so it is completely safe to use. It is also vegan and gluten-free friendly. If you don’t want to use pectin or cannot source it you will need to use another gelling agent or thickener to get the jelly to set. You can try using agar agar or gelatine in place of pectin, but I have not tested this recipe with either of those.
This recipe is a low sugar jelly recipe as it uses low sugar pectin. I personally do like super sweet jellies and jams so always opt for low sugar pectin which gels without needing as much sugar as regular pectin. If you want to make violet jelly with regular pectin or liquid pectin follow the package instructions for making mint jelly and use violet infusion in place of mint infusion.
You can use unrefined sugars and sweeteners but the purple color can turn brown or may darken. White sugar is best to preserve the purple color of the jelly in this recipe. If you're going to try this with an alternative sweetener go for something that is light in color like light agave nectar or light honey.
Violets are known to bloom in springtime throughout the world. In New England, where I am based, violets flower from mid-April to mid-May. As you move farther south violets will bloom earlier.
Use violet jelly as you would use fruit jelly. Spread it on toast, biscuits, scones, crackers, etc. Use it as a filling in cakes, cupcakes or cookies. Jars of wild violet jelly make beautiful unique edible gifts.
Violet leaves and flowers are known to have high levels of vitamin C, which can be beneficial to one’s general health. That said, the fact that we are cooking the violet infusion with white sugar to make jelly may write off any health benefits of eating violet jelly. If you are interested in learning more about using violets as herbal medicine check out this article on the health benefits of violets.
More Edible Flower Recipes:
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