I love the deep purple hues of violets. These beautiful little flowers grow in abundance this time of year, so I took the opportunity to try out one of the recipes from Gibbons’ book, Stalking the Healthful Herb. According to Euell Gibbons, violets are “nature’s vitamin pill” containing 150mg of vitamin C per 100g of blossoms, three times the amount of that in oranges weight for weight.
I decided to make violet syrup, since it is healthful and a gourmet addition to desserts or cocktails.
So, I went out into my yard and picked about a cupful of violet blossoms. I did this in the early afternoon on a sunny day, a good time to harvest blossoms and herbs since the sun has dried off any moisture that might have collected on them overnight.
I placed the blossoms in a clean, dry canning jar.
Then I covered them in an equal amount of boiling water (1 cup). You can see from the photo that the water begins to take on a beautiful light blue hue.
Then, I let the mixture steep for 24 hours. I then strained out the violet blossoms (and put them in my compost canister, pictured behind the jar). What was left was this gorgeous jewel-toned blue liquid. Violet essence!
I put the strained liquid into a sauce pan and added the juice of half a lemon, and 2 cups of sugar (the only sugar I had was vanilla sugar that I had made by placing a halved vanilla bean in a jar of sugar and letting it sit for two months — the color was a light brown, which may have affected the color of my syrup). The addition of the lemon juice caused a chemical reaction, turning the blue liquid into a pinkish-purpleish liquid. I brought this to a boil, and cooked it at a simmer for about 10 minutes.
I then poured the syrup into a sterilized canning jar, and placed it in the refrigerator. The final result is below. I will try this recipe again with less lemon juice. I’m not sure how the taste will compare, but I’d like to preserve as much of the gorgeous blue color of the violet water as possible.
According to Gibbons, ancient herbalists used violet syrup to cure epilepsy, pleurisy, jaundice, consumption, insomnia and more. He found that it had demulcent and expectorant properties, making it a tasty cough syrup. However, he recommends enjoying just for the pure pleasure of the taste, putting on pancakes, making drinks from it, or pouring some over shaved ice.