When life gives you violets, make violet syrup!
Here on the homestead, we have a few types of violets. Beautiful little Common Blue Violets spring up wild. Velvety purple Johnny Jump Up Violets have been spreading prolifically since we first planted them. Sweet White Violets bloom in the dappled shade of the forest.
Violets are a gentle and beneficial herb, with a variety of calming and soothing properties. Flowers and leaves are edible, fresh or dried, and I always set aside dried blossoms for use throughout the year. Added to tea, they have a light floral flavor and are calming like chamomile and soothing to the sinus system. I also infuse coconut oil with violet blossoms and leaves to add to my home-made lotion.
But my favorite thing to do with violets right now is make Violet Syrup. It’s just so much fun! Did you know that the pigment in violets is a pH indicator? So just like those little pH strips, violets change color with acidity. When you make syrup from purple violets, you will get a predictably purple syrup. But that syrup will change colors when you add it to different liquids! Add violet syrup to club soda, and your drink will turn blue. Slowly add lemon juice to change it back to purple again. Add violet syrup to lemonade, and it will turn pink!
Violet syrup is simple to make. It starts with picking violet blossoms! (Only pick purple blossoms for this purpose, of course – the purple-r, the better!)
I used 2 c of blossoms to make 2 c of syrup – but you can increase the ratio of blossoms to deepen the color. Violet pigment is sensitive to heat and will break down at a high boil. Instead, pour boiling water over your blossoms and then leave them to steep overnight. In the morning, strain the liquid into a kettle and add sugar to make syrup. A 1:1 ratio of sugar to liquid will yield a simple syrup. White sugar will preserve the violet color. Be gentle with the heat, using low heat and stirring regularly until your syrup comes just to a boil. Remove from heat and store in a clean jar.
And now you’re ready for the next hot summer day – and the best glass of ice-cold pink lemonade you’ve ever tasted! Enjoy!
There are lots of sources available for learning more about violet syrup! Learning Herbs.com, Fare Isle.com, and Hearth and Vine.com all offer their own takes on violet syrup. Once you’ve got the basics, there’s lots of room to adjust the details – so have fun and experiment!
by Sydney Michalski