My grandmother always loved wild violets. I do, too, and that’s why they were the flowers I chose for my wedding. Not the smartest move, perhaps, since the edible candied violets were impossible to find and I had to order some that were imported from France. They sat atop vanilla bean cupcakes swirled with white chocolate buttercream, and their flavor was so delicate and lovely that I fell in love that day.
Homemade Wild Violet Syrup
But the price! Oh, they were expensive. The good thing about wild violets, however, is that they grow like wildfire here in PA and I have zillions in my yard. I always promised myself I’d take the time to turn them into something wonderful someday, and that day has finally arrived.
A syrup struck my fancy, so a syrup it was. I had visions of a purple-hued sparkler, light lavender-colored tea or syrup-soaked shortbread fingers. Once afternoon last week, I wrapped the baby up on my back and set out to pick a jar full of these tiny, fragile flowers. Note to self: babywearing is fabulous, but maybe not while picking violets for an hour and a half. Ugh.
If you try to find instructions on how to make violet syrup online, you’ll find a lot of differing methods. You’ll see differing amounts of flowers and sugar, and some will tell you to use lemon juice while others will tell you to steer clear as it will turn your syrup a magenta color. I started with an extremely simple method that I only intended to keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Here are the easy steps I followed:
Pick enough wild violets to fill one pint jar. Don’t include leaves or stems – you just want the flower itself. Be careful that you do not pick them from anywhere that has been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides.
Once picked, place all flowers in a quart jar.
Boil 2 cups of water, then pour enough water over flowers to fill the jar. The water will immediately begin to change color and take on a pretty violet hue. Put a lid on the jar and let the flowers sit in the water for 24 hours.
Fit a glass bowl over a pot of hot water to fashion a water bath (bain marie) OR use a non-reactive pot. Pour your violet water into the bowl through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to remove all traces of violets, then toss them into the compost. Now, add sugar to the water in the bowl. I’ve seen recipes calling for cups and cups of sugar at this point, but I used one heaping cup and it made a lovely sweet syrup that worked really well for us.
Heat violet water in the water bath long enough to completely dissolve the sugar, bringing the mixture to a light boil for about 5 minutes. Then, pour your syrup into clean jars (we run ours through the hot cycle in the dishwasher to sterilize) and refrigerate. From what I can find, this should last for several weeks in the fridge – if you can keep any that long!
Our batch yielded a little more than 2 pints of syrup.
Note: Our syrup is a very bright color, but it’s blue, not purple. I’m not sure why this is, but we did use our own well water and we have a softener. Next time, I’m going to try using distilled water to see what happens. Rumor has it that a few drops of lemon juice might brighten it, so I think I’ll try that next time, too.
Though it does look kind of purple in the glass, don’t you think?
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Uses for Violet Syrup:
No matter the color, the taste is like no other – my 4-year-old son says it tastes like “flowers and butterflies.” But now that you’ve made it, what do you do with it?
- Make a spritzer with 1/3 syrup and 2/3 plain seltzer. (My favorite!)
- Add it to iced tea.
- Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream
- Spoon it over pancakes, waffles or crepes.
- Pour over fresh fruit.
- Freeze it into ice cubes and add to summer drinks (make sure to freeze some whole violets in the cubes, too! They’re SO pretty floating in a glass.)
- Use it to glaze cookies or cakes.
- Soak pound cake cubes in syrup and add to trifles.
- Get creative and create a floral cocktail. (Just be aware that your color may fade! I added whipped vodka, and the color was GONE in minutes!)
Have you ever made violet syrup, or eaten them in any way? If so, please share your ideas. I want to use some more before they’re gone!