Ultra Violet Lilac and Wild Rose Jelly

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Introduction: Ultra Violet Lilac and Wild Rose Jelly

About: Hands-on DIY lover and borderline crazy crafter. I love Halloween and creepy food.

This delicate jelly is made from a handful of spring blossoms. With the delicate floral flavor and a burst of sunshine like citrus, this jelly is a sweetly subtle treat that we wait all year for!

The brilliant, almost electric violet color is a direct result of the flowers we use in our jelly blend and this recipe contains absolutely no artificial colors!

Step 1: Springtime in Idaho

It's springtime in Idaho and this year's mild weather and deep soaking rains mean a bumper crop of beautiful flowers. We have a lilac bush in our backyard that is over 40 years old and produces the most delicate and beautiful lilac blossoms like clockwork every May, filling the yard with their delicate floral aroma. Unfortunately, those delicate blossoms only last a few days, so this year we decided to try to capture them in a jelly, allowing us to preserve that smell and the feeling of new spring for as long as possible.

Our yard is also full of other flowers, including the bright and cheerful wild rose and the shy and thoughtful violet. I gathered up a few handfuls of each and brought them inside to clean and prepare.

Step 2: Prepping Your Flowers

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your flowers are edible. Seriously...step number one... Do not move onto any other part of this recipe until you are 100% sure your flowers are safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.

I believe the variety of violets I used in this batch are called the "English Violet" which is also sometimes called the "Sweet Violet." We've had them growing in our yard for years, which is why I chose them, but really, any type of edible violet would be suitable. Be aware that some violets are a bit more bitter (but still edible) so adjust your sugar content to taste.

Once you know your flowers are safe to eat, you'll also want to make sure they're high quality. That means making sure you discard any brown or wilted flowers, stems, or undesirable bits. That also means making sure your flowers are washed and cleaned, especially if there is any possibility they came into contact with any pesticides or bug sprays.

Speaking of bugs, make sure you double check and remove any of those as well. I got lucky with the violets and roses, but we did find a few earwigs hiding in the lilac blossoms.

Because the process of making this jelly turns our normally brilliant flowers white, I decided to toss in a few dried butterfly pea flower blossoms I had on hand to help really punch up the final color (butterfly pea flowers are famous for their absolutely stunning and magical color properties...more on this in the coming steps!)

Once your flowers are cleaned and prepped, it's time to start making the jelly.

Step 3: Gather Your Ingredients and Start the Process

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 compressed cups edible flower blossoms (we used lilac, violets, wild roses and butterfly tea flowers)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 small packets of unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla

You'll also need

  • large pot
  • spoon
  • Large plastic jug or glass jar
  • Strainer
  • Coffee filter

As you can see from my first photo, the bulk of the flowers I gathered were the lilac blossoms, with a handful each of the rose petals, violets, and butterfly pea flowers tossed in for added variety in both color and flavor.

In a pot on your stove, bring your 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop in your flowers. Allow them to steep in the pot until the whole thing comes to room temperature.

Once they've cooled down, transfer your steeping flowers to a plastic jug or glass jar and place in the fridge to continue to steep for at least 2 hours and up to 24. You'll notice that the longer your flowers steep, the lighter they get and the darker your liquid will turn. Of course, this means that the longer they steep, the stronger your final jelly flavor will be. I let this batch soak for the full 24 hours.

Step 4: Straining and Boiling

Once you're done steeping your flowers, you'll need to separate them from the liquid. This is easily done by pouring them out over a fine mesh sieve. As you can see, my flowers are now almost completely void of color and my liquid is a gorgeous indigo blue/purple.

Transfer your drained liquid to your pot and return to the stove.

Scoop out 1/2 a cup of this liquid and set aside in a small bowl.

Add your sugar and your lemon juice to the rest of your liquid in the pot and watch the magic! As the lemon juice hits the liquid, it reacts with the naturally occurring anthocyanin pigment within the butterfly pea flower. The lemon juice changes the ph of the liquid, triggering the color change. It's a little bit of chemical magic! It also helps ensure that our lilac and violet jelly is...well, violet!

Bring the pot up to a boil over medium heat and cook only until the sugar is completely dissolved.

While the bulk of your flower liquid is cooking in the pot, sprinkle your gelatin over the small bowl of cold flower liquid you reserved from earlier and allow to bloom for 5 minutes. Now is the time to determine exactly how solid you want your jelly. For a spreadable, toast perfect jelly, add in just two packets of your powdered gelatin. To make a firmer, moldable, dessert jelly, I suggest 2 1/2 to 3.

As soon as the gelatin is fully bloomed, add that to your pot of hot flower liquid, turn off the heat, and stir until all the gelatin is also dissolved.

And for anyone looking to make this a vegan or vegetarian recipe, simply substitute powdered agar at a ratio of 1:1. The only big change you'll have to make if adding agar is to leave the pot on the stove and allow to boil for at least 60-90 seconds after adding the agar powder to ensure it's fully dissolved and activated.

Step 5: Let Me Clarify...

Once your sugar and gelatin are fully dissolved, you'll notice that your jelly has a light layer of foam on top of it. To get rid of that foam and ensure that your jelly is truly beautiful, I like to run it through a coffee filter. The easiest way to do this is to set the filter into your sieve over a bowl and just pour the hot flower liquid right on through.

Allow your liquid to completely filter and then transfer to glass jars and pop into your fridge for a few hours to firm up.

Step 6: Beautifully Delicious!

Congratulations! You should now have 2 cups of absolutely gorgeous and vibrant jelly lightly flavored with the taste of sunshine and springtime! This jelly is perfect on delicate pastries like crumpets and crepes and for a truly decadent treat, pop some into the microwave for about 15 seconds and drizzle over vanilla ice cream...

Of course, you can just do what I do and grab a spoon, pop open a jar, and eat it straight like it is.

Each batch should make approximately 2 cups of jelly and will last in your fridge for up to 2 weeks...but at the rate we eat this stuff, I'm not 100% sure as we've never actually been able to keep it around that long.

The best part of this recipe is, while there is just a short window of time each spring for us to gather enough lilac blossoms to make this version, you can easily adapt it to any edible flower! We are looking forward to a summer of dandelion jelly, clover flower jelly, hibiscus jelly, pansy jelly, more rose jelly, and lavender jelly. For a full article on the different types of edible violets as well as how they look (and other edible flowers you can use for this recipe), click here: https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/4133/

If you want even more unique and strange recipes, swing by my main Instructables page or check out my horror themed food blog, The Necro Nom-nom-nomicon.

Bone appetite!

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    17 Discussions

    Just thought I'd add this, great instructable and congrats on being one of the winners of the contest! I hope you are able to make some cool stuff with the 3d printer :)

    Although I don't think this was intended to be a 'fluorescent' jelly under ultra violet light, I am sure that using 'Tonic Water' would do the trick if you don't mind an artificial ingredient. Otherwise a quinine sulphate tablet should also work. N.B. Don't overdo the quinine, it is poisonous when the dose is exceeded, I think it is an unpleasant condition, can even prove fatal and it is very difficult to treat. Perhaps a single, standard dose for an entire batch, just in case somebody gorges the lot !

    1 reply

    I had actually played around with the idea of adding a bit of quinine to the recipe to really make it ultraviolet but ultimately resisted as the flavor of the flowers are so delicate any bitter flavor added could potentially overwhelm them...but definitely something to continue to play around with! Of course, there's also always the idea of adding in a bit of B-12 vitamin crushed up, but again, there is the risk of a bitter aftertaste I'd like to avoid with a flavor as delicate as lilac.

    :)

    I believe the variety I used in this batch was called the "English Violet" which is also sometimes called the "Sweet Violet." We've had them growing in our yard for years, which is why I chose them, but really, any type of edible violet would be suitable. Be aware that some violets are a bit more bitter (but still edible) so adjust your sugar content to taste.

    For a full article on the different types of edible violets as well as how they look (and other edible flowers you can use for this recipe), click here:

    https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/4133/

    :)

    If you're adding gelatin this is more like Jello. To make real jam or jelly, wouldn't you add pectin instead?

    I do love the color and the concept of flower jelly. I would have to see if I could source any edible flowers as lilacs don't grown locally. I do have plenty of roses and have that on my list to try. I love violets, I drink violet soda and eat violet candy, but again, there's no where I'd be able to source enough violets for a recipe such as this. I can get the butterfly pea flowers dried edible organic on amazon but am at a loss to source the violets and lilacs. I might be able to try this by using Bigolette violette syrup and cutting some of the sugar. I'd have to experiment. But it does look awesome.

    2 replies

    Technically you're absolutely right about the lack of pectin, but for some reason, when pectin was added, it absolutely refused to gel and turned into a grainy, runny simple syrup that absolutely no amount of boiling down could fix (and eventually foamed over in one instance and caught fire...I'm still cleaning that mess off the burners. Photos of that disaster are attached!).

    I'm not 100% sure what the problem was...maybe it was too much sugar to the amount of pectin we were using? Maybe it was something to do with the combination of chemicals released by the flowers? Maybe my pectin was old? Maybe I just happened to anger the jelly gods and they decided no matter what I did, pectin wasn't going to be my friend for this recipe?!

    Regardless, three tries later with different measurements and methods, we ditched the pectin, swapped in gelatin, and the rest is Instructables history.

    My goal for my Instructables is to try to make them as accessible for most people as possible and having three huge failures in a row with pectin made me wary of unleashing that misery on anyone else. I have had success with pectin in the past when making fruit jelly, so while I'm not giving up on it all together, for this recipe, I decided to make it a little easier on us all.

    20180513_132322.jpg20180513_132328.jpg

    Well, that makes perfect sense. It could be since there is absolutely no fruit in this at all that pectin simply won't work. I'm not familiar enough with chemistry to know.

    Since you're not processing it this is basically a refrigerator jam/jelly so I suppose it doesn't matter.

    I would use a much larger pan. I have a real copper jam pan and only fill it a bit over half full when I'm making anything. Although since you aren't reducing this recipe, it probably doesn't matter that much.

    As long as you're experimenting, try Rose Geranium flowers. I have a jam recipe (strawberry rose geranium) and it is awesome. You just have to remember not to put in too many.

    Can this be made with dried lavender buds? Would you adjust the quantity used? Many thanks!

    1 more answer

    Absolutely! I would definitely adjust the amount you're using as dried flowers often have a more concentrated flavor and you can get away with using less. My rule of thumb for making this sort of stuff with dried ingredients is to start out with a small batch, brew it like you'd brew tea, and then taste test. If you're happy with the strength, just scale up!

    Awesome looking jelly, might never want to eat it...and bonus points for the name of your blog !!

    1 reply
    0
    user
    attosa

    2 months ago

    Most impressive!

    0
    user
    iceng

    2 months ago

    What a FANTASTIC TREAT !

    I'm a UV Lover and until now the only UV consumable known to me was Schweppes tonic carbonated water with quinine..

    Thanks for your excellent ible !!

    Some of my UV solids to peruse..

    GeodeBot.jpgp0.jpegsync jul 20131113 826.jpg
    1 reply

    Thank you! I had actually played around with the idea of adding a bit of quinine to the recipe to really make it ultra violet but ultimately resisted as the flavor of the flowers are so delicate any bitter flavor added could potentially overwhelm them...but don't worry, this is far from my last UV post...I have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
    :)