Over the past five years, Mary Ann Brahler has earned more than 30 ribbons for her canned goods. She is an organic gardener who lives in a solar-heated home on 36 acres in New Jersey. She says, “I want to remind people that New Jersey is an agricultural state, not just an extension of New York City.” New Jersey’s state flower is the violet, which Mary Ann frequently uses in cooking, making violet vinegar, violet syrup, and candied violets. She picks her violets in a field at an abandoned farm near her home and encourages cooks to find a pesticide-free source.
Place the flowers in a jar. Boil the water and pour over the flowers. Let steep for 24 hours.
Strain the infusion through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Allow the liquid to drain fully without pressing the blossoms. (Pressing will make the jelly cloudy.) Discard the blossoms. In a large saucepan, bring the violet infusion and pectin to a full rolling boil. Add the sugar and stir well. Bring back to a rolling boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and skim off the foam. Ladle into ½-pint jars, seal with lids, and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.