... a little ~Spring Magic~
Updated: Jun 9
Violet + Purple Dead Nettle Jelly & musings on the returning of Spring...
Have you ever made Violet + Purple Dead Nettle Jelly?!
There is something SO magical about spending an early spring day collecting flowers in the cool breeze as the sun shines down on you. Sweet aromas of the season to come fills the air and a promise of new growth is right around the corner.
I can't think of a better ritual to honor spring's return than turning wildflowers into sweet goodness. Jelly is such a fun way to preserve the freshness of wild edibles that grow right outside our front door.
First, let's nerd out a bit on the medicinal properties of these early spring flowers!
Violet: Viola sororia, known as the common blue violet (though it appears more purple), is a stemless herbaceous perennial in the Violaceae, or violet family. It grows abundantly throughout the eastern US and is easy to identify!
Topically, violet is used as a poultice, compress, infused oil, and salve for dry or chafed skin, abrasions, insect bites, eczema, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is cooling, soothing, and anti-inflammatory.
Internally, violets have long been used to create natural cough syrups that both soothe and act as an expectorant. A relaxing tea can be made from their leaves steeped in hot water. Violets are also a wonderful source of vitamin C & A! The beautiful blossoms make a pretty addition to any salad and can also be used as decoration for sweet confections.
This humble flower is a true gift from nature.
Purple Dead Nettle: Lamium purpureum L. A square-stemmed, low-growing winter annual with pubescent, triangular-ovate leaves, toothed margins and pale pink florets. Purple dead nettle belongs to the mint family.
Typically considered a weed, this winter/early spring gem is not to be overlooked!
As a medicinal herb, Purple Dead Nettle has astringent, purgative, diuretic, and diaphoretic properties. It's also anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. Fresh leaves can be applied to wounds as a poultice.
A few culinary applications include using the fresh leaves in a wild pesto or sauteing the greens as you would any other leafy green. You may also enjoy fresh or dry leaves as a tea.
This plant is abundant in vitamins, particularly vitamin C, along with iron and fiber, while the oil in its seeds is packed with powerful antioxidants.
This plant is best harvested young, as soon as you see the pretty pink blooms appear.
Today we will capture their floral essence in a delicious jelly, perfect for topping toast, biscuits or cornbread!
This recipe is simple & enchanting...
After you gather your violets and purple dead nettle, pluck their delicate petals and place them in a canning jar. You will steep them over night in hot water, creating a gorgeous inky purple tea.
In the morning, you then combine the violet "juice" with a little lemon which transforms the liquid from deep purple to bright magenta, right before your eyes! Stir in some pectin and sugar, bring to a boil then viola! Your very own wildflower jelly, ready to enjoy right away or can to save for later.
What a treat!
This is a great recipe to make with the kiddos and is sure to bring out the childlike wonder in any adult.
Violet + Purple Dead Nettle Jelly
2 cups mix of violet & purple dead nettle flowers
4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
Take 2 cups of violet & purple dead nettle flowers without stems and place them into a wide mouth canning jar. Pour 4 cups of boiling water over them. Allow the violet tea to cool and then place in the fridge to steep for up to 24 hours.
Strain the violet tea through cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. You should have 3 1/2 to 4 cups of liquid. Pour this into a large saucepan.
Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the tea. The color will change from deep purple to a vibrant magenta like magic!
Add 1 package of powdered pectin and bring it to a boil.
Add 4 cups of sugar and return the jelly to a boil. Continue boiling for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir and skim any foam off for 5 minutes.
Pour into jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe the rims and add lids and rings.
Process in a water bath caner for 10 minutes or according to your altitude.
Remove from the caner and place on a towel for 24 hours until the seals have set.