Violet jelly is an easy homemade flower jelly that will add stunning color to your toast, biscuits, and scones. Believe it or not, these bright spring blooms taste like fresh berries, making an exceptionally jelly long before the first fruit harvest of the season.
This past year kept us (and everyone else) at home more than usual, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a project out of all the tasty edible flowers growing all over the yard by making flower jelly.
We started with dandelion jelly, which tastes like honey and sunshine, and with that success, the littles and I started making floral jellies out of just about all the tasty edible flowers we could get our hands-on.
Many, I’ll admit, were underwhelming. I don’t really need to make fireweed jelly or bee balm jelly again. Others, like this wild violet jelly, totally blew my mind.
Believe it or not, violet jelly tastes like fresh spring berries rather than flowers!
Sweet and floral, with hints of blueberry and raspberry, wild violet jelly is going to be on our list each spring from now on!
(I’ve been asked many times, and no I don’t sell or ship jellies, but there are quite a few small makers on Etsy that sell it. If you’re looking to taste violet jelly without all the work of making it yourself, you can support these hardworking home canners at the same time. They are also people selling violet plants from the common wild violet, so you can grow your own.)
Identifying Wild Violets
Wild violets are pretty easy to identify, and they’re incredibly common. They prefer shady wet spaces, and you’ll often find them tucked into corners of your lawn near trees or on the north side of the house.
Here in Vermont, they grow wild near woods edges and bloom in late spring or early summer (May or June). In warmer areas, like the pacific northwest, they bloom as early as Mid-February.
My mom even has them in the high desert of California, where the seeds came in the pot along with a few fruit trees she planted. They don’t do well in the desert generally, given they like moist shade, but she attached drip irrigation to each of her trees.
They’re now all surrounded by a carpet of wild violets that bloom all year round, right through the mild California winter.
The leaves of violets are a distinctive dark green heart shape, that’s a deeper shade of green when they’re deeper in the shade (in sunnier spots the color washes to a lighter green shade). The flowers themselves have 5 petals in a rough star shape and can be anywhere from deep purple, to violet and white.
If you need more help with your ID, I’d suggest that you read up on identifying wild violets.
Medicinal Uses of Violets
While all parts of the wild violet plant are edible, it’s important to note that it’s also used medicinally. The actions are all relatively mild, so the quantities consumed in a bit of homemade violet jelly won’t really have much in the way of effects.
Historically, violet has been used as a respiratory herb (expectorant) and to treat hacking cough (the leaves, which contain soothing mucilage). It’s also used as a lymphatic tonic, to help with lymphedema and breast issues.
If you’re curious about the medicinal uses of violets, I’d suggest reading this article by the chestnut school of herbs, which covers both the edible and medicinal uses of violets quite comprehensively.
The main thing to know is that violets can be a very mild laxative, so don’t go eating a whole jar of violet jelly in a sitting. (Even that likely won’t have much impact, as it’s equivalent to a single cup of violet tea, which is well below a therapeutic dose.)
Harvesting Wild Violets
Making violet jelly starts with harvesting violets. I put my little ones (ages 2 and 4) to work and they entertained themselves for at least an hour harvesting a few cups of violet flowers.
Violets are prolific, but their flowers are quite small and it takes a while to harvest a meaningful amount.
For a batch of violet jelly, you’ll need about 2 cups of violet flowers (loosely packed). A batch is 4 cups of jelly or 4 half-pint (8 oz) jars.
If you want to make it easy on yourself, harvest them right into a quart mason jar and stop about halfway full.
The next step is pouring 4 cups of boiling water over the flowers to make violet tea, which you can do right in the mason jar.
Preparing Flowers for Violet Jelly
When you pour boiling water over the violet flowers you’ll likely get a surprise…a greenish or turquoise-colored tea. That’s not exactly the bright pink color of the finished violet jelly, so what’s going on here?
The compounds that give violets their color actually change color in the presence of acids, like the lemon juice used in canning and jelly making.
Most fruits are acidic, and that low pH makes them perfect for water bath canning. It also brings out the sweet flavor of their natural sugars, and makes a fruit taste like fruit. Finished violet jelly tastes like fresh berries, and I imagine that’s because the same compounds that give them their color also color blueberries and blackberries.
(Both blackberry and blueberry juice will also take on a pink color when you add lemon juice. I actually add a bit of berry juice to my lilac wine, since lilacs don’t give up their color easily. It gives the whole beverage a stunning pink/purple color.)
Even if you’re thinking a turquoise jelly would be pretty neat, it won’t stay that way long. The pectin used to set the jelly actually contains citric acid to help activate the pectin, so no matter what you do it’ll be a pink/purple jelly.
Enjoy the unique color or turquoise violet tea while it lasts…
After making the violet tea, the next step is to add lemon juice (or citric acid). I think the lemon juice compliments the flavors of the flowers beautifully, but if you want a “pure” violet flavor you can use citric acid instead.
Citric acid is substituted for lemon juice at a rate of 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid powder per 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
This added acid helps to contrast the sugar in the jelly (thus dramatically improving the flavor of any jelly, floral or otherwise), and it also lowers the pH to help the jelly keep (whether it’s canned or not).
It’s really neat to watch the color transform as you pour the lemon juice into the violet tea. It’s a neat little feat of chemistry as the pink curls around the jar.
How to Make Violet Jelly
At this point, you should have a violet tea made from 2 cups of violet flowers and 4 cups of water. You’ve added lemon juice (or citric acid) and listened to your little ones (or friends) ooh and ahh at the color-changing magic.
Now it’s time to turn this into jelly.
The process is pretty straightforward, but the order of operations is important. I’m using regular powdered pectin, which is pretty standard and is made by many brands, but this happens to be a box of Sure-Jell, but Mrs. Wages and Ball Canning also make equivalent powdered pectin.
(Avoid anything labeled “no-cook freezer jam pectin,” as it doesn’t work the same way, and it’s much less useful. Even if you’re making a freezer jam instead of canning, I’d suggest using the real stuff as the finished texture is better and the process is more intuitive.)
With powdered pectin, you cannot add the sugar at the beginning. If you do, the jelly won’t jel. (Liquid pectin is just the opposite, and is added at the end.)
Strain the flowers out of the violet tea and pour it into a deep saucepan. Add the powdered pectin (and lemon juice if you didn’t already). Bring the mixture to a hard boil for 1 minute, then add the sugar.
(Note: The color will change even further when you add the powdered pectin, as it also contains some citric acid.)
Return the mixture to a boil for 1 minute, before ladling into jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
(If using liquid pectin instead, use 7 cups sugar to 4 cups violet tea(with lemon juice added). Bring the tea and sugar to a boil, then add the pectin at the end and stir it in. I generally avoid liquid pectin because it requires astronomical amounts of sugar to gel, nearly a 2:1 ratio of sugar to liquid.)
Violet Jelly Variations
I personally love violet jelly just the way it is but feel free to experiment a bit to match your tastes.
You can make a low sugar variation by using low sugar pectin, which is made by just about every pectin maker and each has its own specific instructions.
I like Pomona’s Pectin when I’m making low-sugar recipes, but be sure to read the slip that comes in the packet as that pectin works differently. Follow their instructions for mint jelly, as it’s also a herbal tea made into a jelly and it’ll work the same way with their pectin.
Adding other edible flowers, or a bit of fruit is an option too.
Canning Violet Jelly
Canning is completely optional and simply allows you to enjoy violet jelly year-round (or pack it up and give it as shelf-stable gifts). You can always make this as a refrigerator jelly, in which case, you’d just need to keep the jars in the refrigerator and use them within a few weeks.
My preference is always water bath canning because it lets me enjoy all the flavors of my yard in the winter months (when I’m desperately missing them). If you’ve added the recommended amount of bottled lemon juice (or an equivalent amount of citric acid), the jelly should be at the right pH for canning.
Be sure to pour the violet jelly mixture into canning safe jars that take 2 part canning lids. Leave 1/4 inch headspace (no more, or the jars might not seal properly).
Seal with 2 part canning lids and process the jars in a water bath canner.
(If you’re confused at all about what you’ll need to get the job done, I’d suggest reading this guide to home canning supplies.)
Ways to Use Violets
Looking for more ways to use violets?
- Candied Violets
- Violet Leaf Lymphatic Salve
- Wild Violet Sugar Cookies
- Wild Violet Honey Butter
- Wild Violet Vinegar
Violet jelly is a delicious floral treat with the surprising flavor of fresh berries. Enjoy a fresh jelly with these wild spring flowers, long before actual berries come into season!
- 2 cups Wild Violet Flowers
- 4 Cups Water
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice (bottled if canning)
- 1 Box (1.75 oz) Powdered Pectin (Such as Sure-Jell)
- 4 Cups Sugar
- If canning, prepare a water bath canner before beginning. Skip this step for a refrigerator or freezer jelly.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and pour it over 2 cups of loosely packed violet flowers. Allow the mixture to steep for 15 to 20 minutes to make a violet tea.
- Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and strain the flowers from the tea. You should have roughly 4 cups of pink liquid at this point (as the flowers will be slightly wet and keep some of the liquid, even if squeezed out).
- Pour the violet tea and lemon mixture into a saucepan and stir in the powdered pectin. Bring this mixture to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
- Add the sugar (don't add it before this point or the jelly won't gel). Stir to fully incorporate and bring the mixture back to a hard boil for 1 minute.
- Ladle into prepared jelly jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and seal with 2 part lids.
- If canning, process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
If not canned, the jelly should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few weeks. Properly canned in a water bath canner, sealed jars should keep at room temperature on the pantry shelf for at least 12 months.
The lemon juice is not optional in this recipe, it creates acidity which helps balance the sugar in the jelly, giving flavor and helping to activate the pectin. You may substitute 1/2 tsp citric acid in place of the 1/4 cup lemon juice for a more neutral flavor that will still give the proper acidity.
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More Wild Foraged Preserves
Looking for more ways to preserve wild foraged treats?
More Easy Homemade Preserves for Spring
Preserving more than just violets this spring?
Wow, what a delicious looking jelly! And best of all it’s free!!! I use the same recipe when making crabapple jelly. The trees around me are Dolgo crabs. You can use just about any crabapple to make jelly but the smaller fruits tend to be too bitter for me. The trees have never been sprayed and are not near a major highway. Something everyone needs to watch for when foraging for free goodies! The color of crabapple jelly is about the same but the taste is tangy and delicious. Thanks for the great recipe.
God Bless and stay safe…
You’re welcome and thank you for sharing. So glad you found it helpful.
Might be a dumb question but is a wild violet the same as an African violet?
That’s a really good question! No unfortunately it’s not, they’re completely different species and to the best of my knowledge, African Violet is not edible. Wild violets are viola species, and African violets are a completely different plant (Saintpaulia sp.).
Oh my! My yard is chock full of these little beauties, so I’ll be making lots of jelly. Thank you SO much for this blog… Now I REALLY can’t wait for Spring to arrive❣❣❣
Good morning Ashley, I have been reading your articles for some time now and enjoying them immensely. About the last 5 yrs I have been making Chamomile jelly the same way using my German Chamomile flowers which luckily reseed and regrow each year . I will definitely do this one also, can’t wait for them to show there little faces here in NJ. Thank you so much for this jelly recipe.
Wonderful! Now I have to try chamomile jelly, it sounds divine!
So excited to make the violet jelly-I just thought they were pretty little flowers!. My grandchildren will be delighted as they love my jams and jellies. Yipee! thank you
I am just in the process of making this wonderful jelly, they are in the canner as I am writing this. I followed your recipe to a tee, yet I have come out with six and a half 8 oz jars, instead of four. Can´t see how you come up with four half pints by using 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar ? Now I am hoping that it will still set up as it still seems very liquid, I´ve just taken them out of the canner,,,,,could it be that 4 cups of water is too much ?
Ooops. That is a type-o in the recipe yield, yours should set nicely. The yield should be 6 half-pint jars (as it is with the dandelion jelly recipe since they’re essentially the same floral jelly). I’ll go in and correct it. Thanks for the heads up!
And they did, they set up beautifully and taste wonderful ! Many thanks for the great recipe, I will try dandelion and red bud as well !
Wouldn’t you need 1 teaspoon citric acid
for 1/4 cup juice?
That is correct, there must a typo in the notes. The ratio is 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid for every tablespoon of lemon juice. There are about 4 tablespoons in a 1/4 cup so multiply 1/4 teaspoon by 4 and you get 1 full teaspoon of citric acid for this recipe.
yikes! so I went by the 1/2 tsp citric acid for the four cups of liquid. It all looks good, but its my shelf life that will suffer, correct?
Yes, that’s correct. You can put it in the fridge or freezer to prolong the shelf life.
Just a thought… can you use Johnny-jump-up’s (VIOLA CORNUTA) with the wild violets? Lots of jump ups but not so many violets grow here about. Thanks
I love Johnny Jump Ups! They used to grow like crazy at my last home, but for some reason, they just won’t take here (I’ve even planted them). They are edible too, and should work just as well, but I haven’t tried it. I imagine they’d have a similar taste as they’re a very similar flower and closely related, but I’m honestly not sure.
I have a million of those as well! I made the violet jelly huge success! Two batches – both white violets and purple. The white is like so out of this world honey and the purple I have not broken into yet.
That’s wonderful. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
camille napier bernstein
Made this on a whim — gorgeous and so easy.
Wonderful, so glad it worked out for you!
I am basically working my way through your entire blog, I just LOVE it! ☺️ We live in NH so our seasons are pretty on point with yours & we have the same wild edibles which is fantastic! We’ve just begun collecting violet flowers today & will continue to collect until their season is done for this wonderful violet jelly! Can’t wait! ☺️ Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!
Thank you so much. We are so glad you’re enjoying the blog.
I made my jelly this afternoon and it’s been sitting cooling for about 6 hours now. I confess I have one jar I’m consistently checking (no more than once every couple hours) and it has still not even got a hint of setting. How long does ittaketoset?
I should note that as a diabetic I used a low sugar pectin that only required 1/4 cup sugar to set and then used Splenda for the rest in the recipe.
Jellies can take up to 48 hours to set, regardless of the type of pectin. I’ve had some take quite a while, so be patient with it.
Do you know if I could use white violets and have the same flavour? Any idea what the colour would be like? I seem to have a bumper crop of white violets in my back yard grass. They might not be “wild”, if so, can they still be used for jelly?
I am not sure what the flavor or color would be. I would definitely try it out if you are sure that they are in fact violets and then let us know how it goes.
I used predominantly white violets as well and its tastes like some surreal honey. I was worried the lemon juice would over power it but there is a slight tang but the overall flavor is wild. Can’t put my finger on it. The color is golden. I tripled the batch because I had so many.
Sounds wonderful. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
would yellow wild violets work too? our purple violets aren’t blooming much this year for some reason, but there’s a TON of yellow ones around our property
You can use any edible flower to make jelly. I have seen some articles that suggest that yellow violets are edible but that they can cause some gastrointestinal issues. You want to be sure of your identification and then do a little more research to make sure.
Hi, thanks for this recipe! I love all things edible flowers. I haven’t had great success with violets however. I have read there is a fragrant variety that grows mainly in Europe. Just to clarify, the violets you made this jelly with are the ones commonly found in America? I live on the East coast and have lots of the wild violets but they have no smell, and I have found it difficult to make them taste good! I would love to try this jelly because I’d love to make something with them that was actually good. Thanks! KC
You’re welcome. Yes, this recipe was made using common wild violets.
I have no source of wild violets. Could you use commercially dried violets purchased from a mail order house that are made for potpourri?
I would not recommend doing that. There are probably other places online where you might be able to purchase them but you need to be sure that they are produced for human consumption if they will be used for a food product.
Made this yesterday. Gorgeous, mild and tasty! Made exactly according to recipe, turned out great. Thanks for the lovely recipe. So pretty.
You’re very welcome. We’re so glad you enjoyed it.
I made wild violet jelly for the first time 3 years ago. I made it to gift for Mother’s Day. People are shocked a little flower jelly can be so good and it’s always requested of me! This year I plan to make scones and clotted cream for Mother’s Day brunch to serve with this. Thanks for the recipe!
That sounds so lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Ashley, I clicked on the link for tinctures and landed on someone else’s page. I was going to buy the knives there but I realized they had stainless steel blades.
I could use ceramic knives (I never knew there was a difference with cutting herbals!)
So, 1) Do you have a link for ceramic knives? I love your posts so I’d like to support you. And
2) Do you have your own link for tinctures? Hers was very similar to posts you have shared in years past so I am not worried about using it.
Thanks so much!
I’m sorry but I can’t seem to find the links that you’re talking about on the Violet Jelly post. Is there another post that you were looking at?
I have learned so much from your blog & your recipes have been a great source of fun & learning for my kids as well. I thought it was worth noting that halfway through making this recipe, I realized I only had 2 C sugar (and regular pectin, none of the low-sugar kind). I was worried it wouldn’t set but decided to carry on, figuring in the worst case scenario I would just have some delicious violet syrup instead of jelly. But the jelly set just fine with 2 C sugar and the taste was a perfect balance of sweet and tart. (I used citric acid, not lemon juice, if that makes a difference flavor-wise). Thanks for a great recipe, just in time as we are down to our last jar of grape jam from last summer.
That’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad it worked out for you.
New to canning jellies and jams! When cutting the sugar in half, does this decrease the duration of shelf life for the jelly? Thank you!
It will decrease the shelf life once opened, but not when it’s still sealed in the jar. Sealed on the panty shelf, they’ll last just fine, and high or low sugar makes not difference. Once opened and in the fridge, a high sugar jam or jelly will last a lot longer, while a low sugar one will spoil after a week or two.
I am lucky that my violets will actually peek up out from under a snow cover. They are such a delight! I have been allowing my back yard to become more of a wooded garden of natures’ choice. The violets white & purple grow quite heavily along with dandelions & several other eatable weeds. My two girls have an abundent supply of greens. They give me 2 eggs a day even through their first winter. I didn’t add extra lighting. Guess my babies will have to share the flowers with me. Of course I will have to turn over the boards for a worm treat!
Thanks for the recipe. I’m in northwest Connecticut and found lots of violets this year. I find them on the edges of woods and often under pine trees. I’ve just made a batch of violet jelly following your recipe. The lids have popped/sealed, just waiting for jars to cool now. I used a mix of purple and white violets, and Surejell. Cheers, Sidney
You’re very welcome. Hope you enjoy your jelly.
Mine didn’t set up, but it was sure pretty to look at
I’m so sorry it didn’t set up for you.
Can you add fresh blossoms to each jar before sealing and processing to make it look pretty?
Thank you, Margie
That sounds like a great idea. I haven’t ever actually tried it but I am guessing that they won’t stay very pretty through the canning process but let us know if you decide to try it.
I tried this recipe this weekend and honestly who knew the jelly would be so delicious. I mean bees make honey from flowers and that is yummy. So why wouldn’t this jelly taste good? It’s honestly so very sad how disconnected we are from the Earth. I’m trying to find my way back to it and your writing is helping me explore. Thank you for the wonderful information, great recipe, and helping me live completely in this world and not just on it.
You’re very welcome. We’re so glad you enjoyed the jelly. I agree with you that it is sad but hopefully we can all do our part to change that.
Made this jelly yesterday and it looks beautiful. How long does it usually take for yours to set? Mine has been sitting for about 16 hours and is still liquid.
It can sometimes take 24 to 48 hours to set.
I accidentally canned with fresh lemon juice vs. bottled. Is this batch safe to consume? Or should I eat it within a certain time frame? I’m so sad about this.
In this particular case, fresh lemon juice should be totally fine for canning. There is more than enough lemon juice in there to bring the pH down, and even if by chance it’s not quite as acidic as bottled (which happens occasionally, but not all the time), it’d still be perfectly fine. Pectin actually has citric acid added in to correct for this as well, so many recipes say you don’t need the lemon juice at all for safe canning. That’s just a bonus for extra caution, and given that, fresh is totally fine.
This is the third year I’ve made this jelly. I just wanted to say to make sure to use the sure-jell pectin as I’ve tried it with the Ball pectins and it doesn’t retain the color, one of the best things about this jelly. My daughter is named Violet and I make this every year in honor of her. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
You’re welcome. We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe.
The relentless storms here in California have brought about the most amazing show of wild violets.
I just made this jelly today, after years of thinking about doing it.
Thanks for the recipe.
You’re very welcome. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Just made this jelly for the first time last night. It tastes delicious! My color is fainter than your picture’s, and the jelly is less translucent than yours. Any idea what might have caused that? I did use low-sugar pectin. It is still gorgeous and delicious, just curious why it would have turned out different. Thank you!
It may be the pectin. I have heard several people say that the brand of pectin can affect the final color.
Can you tell me if the flowers can be frozen, and if so how to do that.
If I were going to freeze them, I would probably put them in a little water first and then freeze that.