Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Dandelion greens...fiddlehead ferns...morel mushrooms...this Spring I've been struck with foraging fever.

After living many years in the high plains desert of Wyoming, where only sage brush cares to grow, I am back in the Midwest for Spring and feasting on the abundance growing in my own back yard.

Today I spent the morning harvesting purple violets to infuse in a simple syrup that will bring the freshness of Spring flooding back even in the heat of Summer or cold of Winter.

My favorite ways to use this treat are drizzled on broiled grapefruit halves, splashed into a cool glass of sparkling water, lemonade, or other icy drink, or mixed into chamomile tea.

It is nearing the end of violet season, but if you want to try this recipe yourself just follow these simple directions. (the hard part is the harvesting)
*Gather clean, pesticide free blooms and using a canning jar, cover with equal parts boiling water. Cover and let sit for 24 hours shaking gently now and then. Strain the blossoms but do not press on the flowers.

*Add lemon juice to the violet juice one teaspoon at a time. This will turn the violet juice from a deep blue to a colorful purple. Stop when you reach the desired color. I went a bit too far this year and would have preferred a slightly deeper color, but it is still beautiful.

*Now you make a simple syrup out of the juice by boiling it with 1 1/2 cups of sugar for every cup of juice. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Place in a sterilized jar with a screw ring top and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes for longer storage or refrigerate and use promptly.

I also tried my hand at candying a few of these beautiful blooms, that didn't go as well. I think I'll figure out the technique with a few more sturdy specimens like mint leaves first and try the violets again next year.



you are so incredibly cool, it's annoying!

JDWolfe said...

Well, I have you fooled. :P

Natalie -- NKP Designs said...

That's wonderful! I have wild violets in my back yard that I 'liberated' from the field. They have all bloomed, but my blooms are white, with just a hint of purple. I hope I remember next year I would love to try that recipe.

JDWolfe said...

I only have a few of those pale violets in my yard, but endless amounts of the purple ones. The pale ones would be really pretty as candied flowers.