April Violets

I commented on Elizabeth’s blog that I didn’t have any favourite spring smells as I think spring is all about sights and sounds with buds bursting, blue skies, primroses in a grassy bank and skylarks singing overhead. But I’ve changed my mind. My favourite spring smell is definitiely violets.

I adore the smell of violets. My grandmother wore April Violets scent and I loved the way her house seemed to absorb and exude the smell; my favourite perfume is Insolence – violets again; I even enjoy eating Parma violet sweets. I thought it was only cultivated violets or synthetically produced violet that gave that real blast of scent, not wild violets that lurk in the undergrowth every spring. We have violets growing in the fields and in shady corners of the garden but they never seem to smell. Maybe a slight whiff of violet, but overridden by a sort of rubbery smell. This year however they seem to have surpassed themselves. Not only have we got violets springing up in new places and in greater numbers than usual, but they smell divine.  A fleeting smell and you really have to get very close, but nonetheless, a beautiful smell.

I’ve picked a few violets and polyanthus to put in vases and to make a spring jelly using rose syrup, which made a sort of Turkish Delight jelly, but elderflower cordial would taste good. I didn’t bother to wash my flowers as I’m pretty sure nothing untoward has happened to them but you may be fussier more hygenic and want to wash and dry them first.

To make your jelly, soak leaf gelatine in cold water; you need enough to set 1 pint so use the number indicated on your packet.

When the gelatine has softened, squeeze out the excess water and add your gelatine to ½ pint of water that has been boiled and then allowed to cool a little. Whisk it in thoroughly and then pour your mixture into a jug containing ½ pint of rose syrup (or elderflower cordial) and mix together well.

To layer the flowers through the jelly, pour a little jelly into the bottom of the mould, poke the flowers in (remembering that your jelly is upside down at the moment) and then leave that layer to set while you keep the rest of the jelly somewhere warmer so it won’t set. My jelly is a little bubbly because I forgot about it and my reserved jelly started to set. Keep repeating with as many layers as you need.

Chill for a few hours until your jelly is firm and then turn it out and enjoy.

5 thoughts on “April Violets

  1. knitsofacto says:

    We don’t see too many wild violets hereabouts, or maybe I just don’t know where to look, but when I do find them it’s all I can do to stop myself picking them all … I adore them! So I envy you what sounds like an abundant supply. And that jelly looks wonderful 😀


  2. Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    Love the jelly idea – must smell and taste beautifully perfumed. If you love violets, have you seen the April issue of Country Living with a recipe for violet cupcakes? I made some of these the other weekend having rather extravagantly ordered a bottle of the requisite violet liqueur (available from Amazon if you are tempted!). Ignore the magazine’s pusillanimous instruction to use only 1 tsp of liqueur in the icing and instead mix the icing using the liqueur for all the liquid otherwise you can’t taste the violet flavour properly. Having implemented this adjustment, (the taste is still very subtle and not at all overpowering), the cakes were a delicious take on those violet cream chocolates which I have a soft spot for and that are now more or less only made by old-fashioned chocolate makers like Charbonnel et Walker.
    If you can’t lay your hands on the recipe and are interested I can send you it.


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