That gentle, spring, powdery scent of fresh violets. It’s an old-fashioned smell. It reminds me of powdery old-lady kisses and victorian valentines and heavily-curtained, doily-covered sitting rooms.
But violets also remind me of spring. That first burst of gentle spring, where you can’t quite believe that these delicate flowers are actually pushing up through the so-recently-frozen grass.
Fast-forward to modern times.
The tricky thing about wildflowers with a short season, like violets, is how to preserve their wonderful scent and properties to last for the year. (Fact: This isn’t always possible. I’m learning sometimes it’s better just to immerse yourself in a short season of flowers and enjoy it while it lasts … a once a year treat can be better than a slightly sad imposter for the next 50 weeks…)
But I’m never one to back down from a challenge. And after being inspired by this violet syrup in Toulouse , when I found a carpet of violets on my recent early-spring walk, I just knew I had to try making my own.
My general approach to foraging is that when you see something abundant and in-season, you have to jump on the opportunity and preserve it. So with violets you could dry them, make a tincture, infuse an oil (in an attempt to preserve the scent) … or make a syrup.
As a keen cook and wild-crafted cocktail maker, I do love an interesting syrup.
You can take the syrup medicinally by the spoonful, mix it into cocktails, drizzle it over cakes or yogurt, or simply dilute with water like an English cordial (like the classic Elderflower Cordial.)
My idea to make a quick violet syrup turned into a lengthy science experiment. But don’t worry – I’ve cracked the violet syrup recipe to give you a gorgeous pink color and capturing that fragile violet scent. Ready? Here we go…
VintageAmanda’s Violet Syrup
Violets (just the flower heads)
Put your fresh-picked violet flower heads in a saucepan, and cover with water. If you feel more comfortable, you can rinse the flowers first in a colander/strainer and then put them in the saucepan.
COVER the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat, leaving the pan covered, and let sit for 20 minutes (you’re making a very strong violet infusion).
Strain off the liquid and preserve – this is the base of your syrup. You can discard/compost the violet flowers.
WEIGH the violet liquid (remember to exclude the weight of the container). Pour it back in the saucepan. Now add the same weight of sugar to the saucepan. Cover and bring to a gentle boil again and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove from heat. Your syrup will be bright blue-green.
To get the pink color – add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir – the color changes like magic! (This is because violet is pH sensitive … post about this coming soon!) Add more lemon juice until you get the color you want.
Immediately pour into sterilized bottles. (If you’re going to keep the syrup refrigerated and use within a couple of weeks – you can just use a regular container. But if you want to have the syrup last beyond 2 weeks – sterilize your bottles!)
Label with name + date (very important! Trust me, you won’t remember what it is…)
Homemade syrups can last between 6 months to 1 year if stored un-opened in a cool, dark location in sterilized bottles. Once open, store in the fridge. If there is any appearance/scent change, or if you see any mold/cloudiness, discard immediately and do not use.
To Use: Drizzle over pound cake or crepes, or put a spoonful in a glass of water (still or sparkling) or mix a spoonful into a gin + tonic.
How would you like to use this violet syrup? Let us know your favorite way to use it in the comments!