"That which above all others yield that sweetest smell in the air,
is the violet" - Francis Bacon
Gathering violets is a medative process.
Quiet and green with the first
soft breeze of Spring dappling the sun.
You feel a connection with past and
those past that have harvested
the perfect blue cushioned in the first deep green.
With each pluck you reach further back in time,
envisioning crisp cotton aprons
and willow baskets..
because if you don't find something to distract you
you will notice your screaming back
and ripping hamstrings.
Picking violets is a test of your will.
Are you capable of enduring?
Can you fill the basket?
Can you endure to achieve the goal that you desire?
Ok.. it's not all that bad, really.
And it is nice to be out on a spring day.
And once you have gathered all
the violets you desire and more is better.
If you are there already,
you might as well pick every violet in sight
because you will be reluctant to venture out again.
It is just not the same as that first glorious day.
After you have brought them inside and given them
a quick, cold soak and drain,
measure them by the cupful as you
place them into a quart canning jar..or two.
Top with steaming hot water.
Use the same number of cups of water
as you did for the violets.
Put the lid on and set them aside to steep
You will end up with a
jar of beautiful violet tea.
I have done this twice this spring.
As you can see, I have a jar of cloudy pink liquid.
That is a wee bit odd.
The first batch gave me a deep blue-purple tea.
It was dark and looked so refreshing and quenching
that it was all that I could do not to swig
it down as if it were the very elixir of life.
The desire was almost overwhelming.
There must be something in violets that I was craving.
But I could not bear to chug such a labor of love.
If you know of ayruvedic medicine,
then I am a blend of an air body type and a fire body type,
So think hot and dry.
Violets have been used medicinally for fevers and inflammation
as a cooling medicine.
I think that is why I craved the tea so.
My body recognized it for it's cooling properties.
Just talking aobut it makes me want a big icy cold jar
of violet tea with the sexy condensation trailing down
down the side.. aaarrghhhh.
But I am not sure why it has gone from a deep blue
to this cloudy pink.
I will pick more (oh gawd no)and see what it brings.
My thought is that it is later in the season
and the increased heat and sun have changed the petals
or the plants themselves have physically changed
in advance of the end of the season.
Back to it...
When the violet flowers are a pale white
and your violet tea is a rich color,
drain the flowers.
Don't squeeze to much or you will lose
the crystal clear of the jelly if that is what you want.
Now you can google 'Violet Jelly" and get tons of recipes.
That is what I did.
But I just couldn't follow them.
That is a LOT of lemon juice!
I didn't want to make a purple lemon jelly.
And they list a LOT of sugar.
I didn't want purple sugar goo.
I wanted a light, delicate and herb-y jelly
where the real flavor and aroma pours forth.
I used 7 cups of violet tea.
1 package of pectin...or was it two?? I think it was 2 for all those cups of tea.
Maybe a tablespoon of lemon juice.. maybe.
And I started tasting..
I would add a bit of sugar, taste, add,
taste, add, taste etc..
until it was sweet enough to be 'sweet'
but it was only to carry the violet taste
Boil this for one minute.
Be very careful here.. it is my thought
that if you really, really boil it hard you
will lose all the oils that carry the scent and flavor.
I had it on a soft boil and for exactly one minute.
Seriously.. I watched the clock.
Ladle up immediately into your clean
and sterilized jelly jars,
lid them and into the water bath
for about 15 minutes.
Cool and wait for the most beautiful sound in the world..
I cannot describe to you the flavor or fragrance.
It is so unusual and different that I have no words.
It is delicate, yet strong and distinct.
It does not carry the same rich bite as a fruit jelly.
It is a flower petal jelly, light and soft.
Next year I really wanna make Violetum,
A Roman violet wine....