Violets! Such glorious little gems of the meadows and woodlands that surround my home here in the Allegheny Mountains. Today my desk is adorned with a sweet little bouquet of wild harvested violets and violas.
We have acres of yard that we don't treat with chemicals. It is a natural field, kept mowed, so it is filled with wild propagated native plants. Dandelions, violets, clover, yarrow along with grasses. With the bee population endangered it is a great help to provide untreated fields and meadows. So we have tons of flora that is fresh, pure and ready for harvest for use in my soap, salves, tinctures and distillation. Today I harvested the wild violets. Our yard has both the classic deep purple and the less common white violets. They pop up every spring, lots of purple and a few whites.
If you are planning on using the violets in herbal preparations - food, salves, body care, distillation - be sure you only choose your harvest from areas free of chemical treatment. I rinse the violets in clear water and pat dry. I picked a little basket full that I will use to create charming little gifts of Violet Sugars, Candied Violets, Violet Syrup and Lavender Violet sachets. Later I will create infused oils to be used for balm, salve, soap and distillation.
For the sugars you want to use just the cleaned flowers, no stems and remove the green calyxes to reduce the chance of bitterness. There are several ways to make the culinary delight of violet sugar. You can simply create layers of the blossoms and sugar, cap the jar and in about a month you will have a delicately flavored sugar for use in teas, baking, decorating cookies and cakes.
Another method results in a final product with a more intense flavor - still delicate but stronger than simple infused sugar. For this you use just the petals. I choose various sugars to create interest, caster sugar, table sugar, sanding sugar, large crystal sugar. Whatever you choose is fine. A good proportion is one part violet petals to two parts sugar such as 1/2 cup petals to 1 cup sugar.
I make mine with a mortar pestle or you can use a food processor. Simply combine the petals and sugar and process until the violet petals are completely incorporated into the sugar. The sugar will be a nice purple color. You can also add some lemon zest for another flavor combination but you will lose some of the subtle flavor as the lemon is stronger.
There is a moisture in the petals so you want to dry the sugar before storing the final product. I spread the processed sugar on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and cover with a layer of cheesecloth. You can let it sit for a few days to dry or speed the process by turning on the oven for 1 minute to get a little heat. Turn off the heat and put the tray in the oven to dry. Once you are sure there is no extra moisture in the sugar you can store it in clean jar. It will last for months in a cupboard.
Using a fine paintbrush, coat the petals with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Place on parchment paper until fully dried and store in a clean glass jar until ready for use.
Violet syrup is a nice addition to your culinary cabinet. You can use it drizzled on fresh fruit - summer sweet strawberries are perfect. You can freeze it for a granita, make violet lemonade or a cocktail with some sparkling water and vodka. To make the syrup you need a cup of cleaned violet petals, one cup of distilled water and one cup sugar.
Put the petals and blossoms into a jar and cover with the distilled water that you have brought to a boil. It is best to use distilled water because tap water may cause a color change. You allow the tea to steep for 24 hours. It will be a deep blue to purple color.
Strain the tea through layers of
cheesecloth to remove the plant material leaving the clear liquid. Note: if your color is blue and you desire a more purple color you can add a very few drops of lemon juice as that will adjust the pH to turn the blue to purple. Don't over do it, just a drop at a time.
Combine the strained liquid and one cup of white sugar into a bain marie or double boiler and gently heat until the sugar is complete dissolved, don't boil it, steam heat is best. Allow to cool and transfer to sterile glass bottles for storage. The syrup will last up to 6 months.
For charming gift for Mother's Day, Bridal Showers, Girlfriend Gifts
make up a basket with a jar of violet sugar, bottle of violet syrup and
fragrant violet sachets and vintage hankies. Perfection!
Thanks for visiting,