Several years ago, Phil and I would get the lawn treated. Not sure why, but it seemed like the thing to do. At some point, with two little kids running around out there, I got less comfortable with a company that used to have “Chem” in their name spraying our lawn, and we quit. Our yard is also too shady or too sunny in a lot of spots, infested by moles, and frankly, not a high priority, so with the burst of summer-like weather this spring, it looked like this:
Last year I made some violet syrup from the violets. Tommy loves it on ice cream (the light-purple syrup is gorgeous on vanilla). Never having met a malapropism he didn’t embrace, for months he called it “violent syrup.” I was sorry when he learned its proper name.
Anyhoo, I’d also tried a violet jam from a blogger I adore, and it was nasty. I’m sure the problem was me, but mine looked nothing like her bucolic photo, and the texture, with little bits of violet, was horrible. I eventually threw it away. So this year, I thought I’d try violet jelly. Not wanting the prolific dandelions left out, I also made dandelion jelly.
“Don’t mow the lawn until I can harvest the weeds!” I yelled at Phil on my way to work last Friday morning. He’s getting used to these strange, barked commands.
The recipe for this kind of jelly is very simple. First, you pick a bunch of weeds. In the case of the violets, I picked the flower heads. With the dandelions, I picked the flower heads and then trimmed the bottom of the head so I mostly had the yellow seed part, with some green that surrounded the yellow head mixed in. (Long way to say, Stay away from the milky part, which is bitter and nasty.)
Put two cups of these prepared flower heads in a jar, cover it with two cups of boiling water, and let it steep about 24 hours. I picked more like four cups of each due to the bounty of my lawn and having invited a good friend over for this backwoods jelly making. Just use the same amount of boiling water as flowers. After about 24 hours, strain this through a cheesecloth or paper towel so you just have the infused water left.
Dandelion or Violet Jelly
2 cups infused water
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package (3 oz.) liquid pectin, like Cert-o
Combine the water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add the pectin and keep stirring, boiling, for two minutes. Seal this in canning jars; this recipe makes between five and six 8-ounce jars.
The violet jelly is a lovely purple color, but the dandelion, on its own, is more brownish, so we cheated and added a bit of food color (maybe 15 drops) to make the color prettier. We added this before the pectin.
If you want to make Violent Syrup, just bring the infused water, sugar, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice (rather than 1/4 cup) to a boil. Then lower the heat and let the syrup simmer for about 10 minutes. Put it in a pretty, pourable bottle; we used old single-serving wine bottles (you know, the kind that comes in a four-pack). I don’t seal the violet syrup, although I could. Instead, I keep it Tommy-ready in the fridge.