Foraging for violets before spring is over? I am too. Before you go picking any, make sure you can positively ID violets and know how to harvest them (both the flowers and leaves are edible). Violets do have a few lookalikes (which aren't edible), but for the most part they're easy to identify. Once you're sure you're dealing with violets, you can harvest them and bring them home in a glass jar or two. Here are some fun (and yummy) ways to use wild violets in the kitchen.
Violet honey is both simple and delicious to make. The hardest part about making it is waiting for the violets to infuse into the honey (as this takes several weeks). If you're impatient, you can choose to eat it after a few days, but it won't have the same taste or healing effects as violet honey that's been infusing for weeks.
- 1-1/2 cups violets (or however many will fit inside a small glass jar)
- raw local honey (however much you need to cover the violets completely—use a big jar of honey for this)
- Once you're done picking your violets, make sure to wash them off good. Then, pat off any water that's on them using a cloth or paper towel. Leave them to dry for as long as they need (you don't want them to have any water left on them or they will mold in the violet honey).
- Once there is no water left on the freshly picked violets, stuff them into a small glass jar until they're almost popping out. Then, pour some honey over your violets. You will not be able to pour the honey in all in one go. You have to do it in intervals to make sure the honey has time to seep down and descend in the jar, mingling with the violets. You can help it along by pushing it down with your fingers or a small spoon (just be warned things will get sticky).
- Let the jar sit for a bit as the honey seeps in, then pour in more. Repeat as needed until the honey is evenly disbursed throughout the jar and all the violets are covered in it. Cover the jar with a lid.
- Let the honey sit and infuse with the violets for 3 to 4 weeks. Do not open the jar until that time is up. Store it in a cool dry place. When the time is up, you can eat the violets whole, smearing the violet honey on toast, adding it to your tea, or taking a spoonful as is. It's great for soothing a sore throat!
The pretty color of this vinegar is what makes it so distinct. It's a beautiful wine-red color when you've completed the recipe. You can use it for the same culinary uses as any other vinegar, such as adding to salads or other dishes.
- 1 cup fresh violets (it's okay if you have more or a little less)
- white vinegar (enough to cover the violets completely—get at least 1 big jar. Can sub apple cider vinegar instead.)
- Gently wash off your violets and pat them dry or wait for them to air dry. Add them to a glass jar (a 16-oz. mason jar works well, or bigger). Pour vinegar over them and cap with a lid.
- Let this sit in a cool dark place for a week or two, making sure not to open it up. When time is up, the vinegar will have taken on a beautiful deep magenta hue. Keep it out of direct sunlight as that will cause the colors to fade faster over time.
- Simply strain the vinegar (you can compost the flowers) and store for a year, or possibly even longer, in a glass container. I suggest adding it to your salads for a delicious twist, but you don't have to use it for just culinary purposes. You can use it to heal wasp stings (simply soak a cloth in the vinegar and hold it to the area), add it to baths to ease aches and pains, or even use it as a hair rinse for itchy scalp and fungal infections. The choice is yours!
Regular sugar not sweet enough for you? How about purple enough? Try making some violet sugar and watch before your eyes as your sugar transforms from white to purple. This recipe is perfect for doing with kids!
- 1/4 cup fresh picked violets
- 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- Make sure the violets are clean and have no green parts left on them, gently rinsing and drying them thoroughly. You pretty much only want the violet petals for this recipe.
- Add the sugar, violets, and lemon zest to a blender or food processor, then process until the petals are finely ground and mixed with the sugar. It should be a light purple color. Store it in an air-tight container and use it as you would regular sugar. For added effect, sprinkle it on top of cakes and cupcakes so the beautiful color can be seen. (Of course, make sure to eat sugar in healthy moderation for optimal health.)
- 3 to 4 cups freshly picked violets (no green leaves or stems)
- 1 cup boiling hot water
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- Boil the water in a pot and turn the heat off when it starts to bubble. Add the violets to the pot, cover, and let sit for 24 hours. When the time is up, strain the violet-infused liquid through a fine mesh sieve, gently pressing any additional liquid from the violets. For every cup of liquid you get, add 2 cups of sugar.
- Stir over the same pot on very low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Be careful not to boil anything, or risk losing the beautiful color of the violets. To make the infusion more of a clear purple color, stir in a little lemon juice (5 to 10 drops should do the trick).
- Store the syrup in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to a year. This recipe makes about 2 cups of syrup and you can use it on anything you like. It's fun to pour purple syrup on pancakes and waffles, and perfect for kids too. Top it off with a fresh violet garnish and your pancakes will look really beautiful.