Wednesday, May 18

Wild Food- Violets

You know spring is here when you look outside and your lawn is covered in those purple flowers that most people consider to be a weed...violets.
 I happen to think they are not only pretty but so delicious! Yes, I said delicious. For such a dainty flower is sure packs a quite a punch. The flowers, leaves and roots of various Viola species are used for medicinal purposes, being rich in vitamins A and C. They also contain a type of antioxidant called an anthocyanin. Viola flowers are also used to make an herbal tea that is used in Chinese herbal medicine.

Many people use violets to make syrup, excellent on pancakes, ice cream, iced teas as well as to treat coughs. But it also makes a wonderful addition to the salad bowl. For a change of pace, you can try sugaring the violets with a egg white wash then dipped into sugar and top off a beautiful white frosted cake. Yummy and pretty!  Now, let's not forget that as Spring leaves us and Summer comes to stay, we are all going to be in need of a Violet Cooler.

   Violet Syrup

  • 4 cups fresh violets*
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon, strained (measuring 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 cups water

Place flowers in a glass jar or bowl, pour boiling water over and gently push flowers under water.

Cover and set aside on the counter to steep for 24 hours. Stir or swirl once or twice to keep the flowers submerged.

Strain flowers through several layers of cheese cloth or very fine sieve in a separate bowl.

Squeeze the extra liquid gently out of the blossoms, then compost or toss them back out in the yard or garden. Set aside.

Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in 6 quart saucepan and bring to a boil.

Boil until syrup thickens, about 3 minutes.  Test by placing a small amount on a dish to cool. Don't judge by what you see in the pan, hot sugar/syrup will seem thin until it cools.

Slowly add violet water and bring back up to a rolling boil.

Boil for 10 minutes or until thickened. (Mine took about 15-18 to get to a nice thick consistency when tested on a plate).

Pour into a sterile jar, allow to cool, then seal and refrigerate.

Makes 3 pint size jars, plus a little bit extra.

This is a pretty popular variation seen around if you google this recipe: substitute 4 cups fragrant rose petals and add one stick of cinnamon per bottle of syrup.

*ALWAYS use flowers from chemical free untreated areas.

Violet Cooler

Violet syrup
seltzer water or carbonated mineral water
violets, mint leaves, or berries for garnish
In a large drinking glass, add the ice, spoon in 5 T syrup, add water and garnish. Use a spoon to stir and disperse the violet syrup throughout the water.

Violet Lemonade

2 cups violet syrup
2 1/2 c cold water
2 1/4 cups lemon juice or 10-14 freshly squeezed lemons
1 lime- juiced
Add the violet syrup to  2 1/2 cups cold water and lemon juice stirring well. Add a couple squeezes of lime juice (to your taste, we added the juice of 1 medium sized lime).
Add ice cubes just before serving. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with fresh violets.

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