Yes, you read that right-Violets are edible! You can eat the flowers and the leaves of this beautiful little wildflower. Although I wouldn’t eat a big ol ‘bowl just full of violets, a few tender young leaves are a tasty addition to your spring salad mix.
The flowers are so pretty-you can pick them and sprinkle them on a green salad for a burst of purple color.
You can freeze them in ice cubes for a beautiful addition to punch or summer drinks. (Tutorial at Garden Mama)
You can “sugar” them to use as a cake decoration. (tutorial for this project at Debra’s Creative Wanderings)
You can even make a calming tea from the dried flowers and leaves.
This year I decided to add to my violet repertoire with a NEW idea, one that I saw over at Chiot’s Run-Violet Syrup! I headed out to the yard to try my luck.
Tutorial: Making Violet Syrup
A glass Jar
A sieve, strainer or funnel lined with cheesecloth
4 oz (about 4 Cups) of fresh violet blossoms
1 C boiling Water
1 C Honey
Step 1: Head out to your yard and pick yourself 4 oz (approximately 4 C packed) of violet blossoms. This is probably going to take you longer than you think…it was about 45 minutes for me. Don’t bend over-dump your pride and just sit on the ground and pick everywhere you can reach and head on over to the next spot. Really. Believe me. Otherwise your back is going to kill you.
Remember the rules of foraging: Always ask permission if you are not on your own property, positively identify your plant, leave plants for the future (although you can pick all the blossoms for violets and not worry-as long as the leaves remain they will be fine) and ensure that you are not picking from an area that has been sprayed with chemicals.
Step 2: Rinse your blossoms. You want to remove some of the dirt and foriegn matter from the blossoms. If you have dogs, cats, chipmunks, rabbits and other animals running or flying through your yard this is doubly important
Step 3: Place your blossoms in the jar. Pack them down.
Step 4: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the blossoms. Use a spoon to pack them down so that they are all under the water. If you need to you may add a bit more water, but you will be diluting the “violet-ness” of the end product.
Step 5: Let your violets steep in the water. I left mine for several hours as I went about my business-you probably could go with 30-45 min if you were in a rush for some reason.
Step 6: Strain your violet water into a saucepan and add the 1 cup of honey.
Step 7: Cook and stir on a medium heat until the mixture thickens somewhat. This is a pretty subjective step-the longer you cook it, the more water you will evaporate and the thicker it will become-although honey is always much thinner when it is hot than it is at room temperature. I cooked mine for about 10 minutes while wisps of steam came off it. The end result was a fairly runny syrup, which was fine with me. I’ve seen others recommend up to 30 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t leave it unattended-if it boils over it will be a very big mess.
Note: If you do not have honey you could substitute in a simple syrup made of sugar and water. I chose to use honey because I am interested in the medicinal uses for the syrup–since honey has antibacterial properties on it’s own I figured it was a good marriage.
Step 8: Keep your completed syrup in the fridge.
Note: You probably could can it using similar directions to those that you find on line for Berry Syrup. . . but I can’t swear to it since I couldn’t find any USDA approved canning directions. As always, use your own common sense.
Variation: If you don’t have (or don’t want) honey for this recipe you could make your own simple syrup by adding 1 cups of sugar to the 1 cups of steeped violet water and cooking until thick and syrupy.
Violet syrup is beautiful and tasty. Supposedly it is calming to have in hot water or a restful tea (like chamomile) before bed. It’s also supposed to help with a cough (although always seek proper medical attention when you are ill).
What experiences have you had with eating violets?
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