Violet jelly

Have you rummaged in your undergrowth recently? Did you see any deeeeep blue flowers? No? I guess yours might be one of the gardens I pillaged for a supply of violets. You see, while flipping through the lovely Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry, I saw mention of a violet jelly, popular around Toulouse in France.

If you go Googling (no, wait, do it later!), you’ll find a few recipes out there for violet jelly — think clear preserve, not wobbly stuff. On a recent visit to Canberra, intrepid jam-man Greg suggested we go a-picking. So we denuded his garden, steeped handfuls of flowers in hot water, then cooked up the liquid with sugar and pectin and lemon juice to make… a rather pink jelly. We used this recipe.

Alas, blue colours in food are quite unstable. To set a jam you usually use pectin and a little acid. The acid (in this case lemon juice) does, however, turn blues to red. So, fixing the jelly endangers the prettiness. I overshot a little in my juice-dosing, it would seem, so pinkish jelly with violet taste was the result.


Recipes vary on their recommendation of variety of violet. Most just say ‘violets’, but some ask specifically for parma violets (which have lots of petals, a so-called ‘double’ violet variety), while others might ask for sweet violets (viola odorata).

Note that the violet fragrance is very delicate. It is difficult to create a jelly with a strong violet flavour, so if you’re tempted to make some, be prepared for the fleeting beauty of the violet.

7 thoughts on “Violet jelly”

  1. They are very pretty indeed. I’ve got parma violets on my balcony, but certainly not enough to make a jelly out of!

  2. Duncan,
    How beautiful, I love the color and wouldn’t mind having lots of this jelly with a slice of bread.

  3. That is just so dramatic! I wonder if there IS a way to make it alkaline for immediate use (so you don’t have to worry about storage) without making it taste soapy. Well, the purple color is quite pretty too– maybe as the filling of a macaron? 🙂

    By the way, ube (Dioscorea alata– purple yam) has no problems staying violet! Creeps out a few people, though 🙂

  4. Well, I just tried, finally, mixing in a very small amount of bicarbonate of soda to see if the colour would change (and if the flavour would be tolerable). There was a very slight change, but at a dose which made the jelly not-quite-palatable.

    Given the colour of some violet jellies found on the internet, it should be possible to achieve a less pink colour with a little experimentation with acidity and, perhaps, concentration of flowers.

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