Let us begin at the end:
The beginning may have been my desire for violet jelly, but the whole subject goes back for years and years, starting with some distant crank telling me how I should be keeping my back yard.
I don’t do lawn. I do flowery mead. And it gets long-ish in the back so that I can harvest the dandelions, and the alehoof, and the clover, and the plantain, and the violets, and the creeping bellflower, and all the other useful plants that landed there and grow every year with exactly zero work on my part. The dandelion leaves are one of the most welcome sights in my yard–finally, produce! Finally, salads! Spring is peeking out and soon my gardens will be groaning!
This year, I really wanted to make violet jelly. I have made violet sugar in the past, and am well aware that the lovely purple violets ubiquitous in my lawn make a mighty fine, delicate sweet.
But one of the sad things about my flowery mead is that my violets come really early. For many people in this area, the violets are just now ending, but mine were gone before May arrived. I am glad to have the warmer micro-climate, but I am sad that it was simply too cold to get the violets when they arrived.
So I looked about for instructions on making some other sort of flower jelly.
And I found this: Dandelion Jelly
Thus, one fine May morning, when my mead looked like this:
I grabbed my basket and started harvesting. This is what I collected:
And then began the entirely tedious chore of separating the blooms into petals and whatever-the-rest-of-the-flower-head is called. I ended up with this:
A pile of discarded flower pieces for the compost, petals for the jelly pot, and unopened buds for the salad plate.
I had to make the dandelion petal infusion right away, but it took a couple of days to get to making the jelly. The infusion kept well in the fridge. Michael was home with me the day I finally made the jelly. He was intrigued by the idea, so I let him taste a bit of the infusion.
“Ugh, tastes like grass,” he said.
“Trust me, you’ll see,” I replied.
And so I followed the process as outlined in the link above.
Me, I liked it. It’s delicate and sweet and honey-like. Michael, however….
When I brought Michael a bit to taste, he gingerly put the spoon in his mouth, gave me a wary look, and tried the jelly. Suddenly, the sun shone out of his eyes and his skull split open and rainbows and ponies poured out of the top of his head and filled up the room while choirs of angels sang in joy.
Think I will be making it again.
I did manage to get maybe a half cup of violets this year, not really enough to make jelly. I can’t decide if I should try to make violet syrup, make violet sugar again, or try grabbing the flowers from the love-in-idleness as they mature and make a mixed viola jelly.
Incidentally, there are websites that instruct gardeners on how to create a flowery mead. I find that surprising, because the obvious answer should be stop trying to kill all the meadow flowers that your lawn will naturally attract, stop using ChemLawn or whatever, and if you are looking for a particular flower, go get a packet of seeds.
And another aside: the canning jar up there is made by Global Amici. I wish I could afford more of them.