Six Uses For Springtime Violets
You know those gorgeous deep purple violets which spring up in your yard each spring? Did you know that there are many ways to use them besides just letting them make your yard aesthetically pleasing? There are both nutritional and culinary uses for them!!
I know it’s a little early in the year to be writing about a springtime flower, but they can start blooming as early as February, and are typically done blooming by mid-April (at least in my part of the world). So doing a little research and planning to forage now will actually help you. Write it in your planner if you need to. Make a notation on your calendar. But don’t miss your opportunity to enough these beautiful flowers to their full potential this year.
Nutritionally, violets have tons of vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as rutin, making it a useful tonic for hemorrhoids, spider veins, varicose veins, broken capillaries and easy bruising. They are also loaded with carotenes, the precursor to Vitamin A. Both of these important vitamins are associated with increased immune function and wound healing. Violet’s a healer, you see. Violet roots reach way down into moist spring soil and pull up vital nutrients and minerals such as Calcium and Magnesium. The leaves become little green vitamin tablets.
Violet leaves also contain mucilage, which has a soothing, moistening effect in the body and is responsible for much of violet’s medicinal activity. Mucilage makes for easy bowel movements; moist, healthy lungs and mucus membranes and it helps to soothe and heal abraded tissue externally and internally (G.I. tract, bladder irritations, etc.) Violet has been used for such conditions as: bronchitis, constipation, urinary tract irritation, and chronic skin conditions.
Violet Tonic Recipe with Fresh Dandelions
Fresh dandelion flowers
Fresh violet flowers
*Make sure you are using just the flower petals, removing as much of the greenery as possible.*
Fill a small glass jar (I typically use a pint jar or smaller) with the flower petals. Slowly pour honey over the flowers, stirring gently with a knife to remove any air bubbles. Cover and let infuse for 2 days or up to a week.
After you let infuse for desired amount of time, heat in small saucepan over low heat (DO NOT let it go over 110 degrees Fahrenheit! It will kill all the medicinal compounds.) until melted enough to strain into a clean jar to remove flowers. Strained tonic will last up to a year.
*You may skip this step, but the flowers remaining will diminish the shelf life considerably.*
This tonic is useful for
Homemade Violet Jelly
2 to 3 cups loosely packed violet blooms
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 package of Sure-Jell pectin
3 1/2 cups sugar
Gather two to three cups of violet blossoms and pour 2 1/2 cups of boiling water over them. Allow to infuse until the flowers seem to have lost all their color. Add the lemon juice to this. (Watch the color change! It’s really neat. Let the kids watch too…. It’s really pretty fun for something so mundane.)
Mix the pectin with the flower/lemon mixture, stir over high heat until it reaches a heavy boil. Boil for one minute then add the sugar all at once. Keep stirring, return to a boil for one minute. Remove from heat and quickly ladle into prepared jars. Process in a water bath for five minutes. Remove from water and let sit for 24 hours.
This recipe is nice to make in the Ball Jam and Jelly maker. I really just hate stirring. I just dwell on what else I could be doing.
2 cups fresh violet blossoms
3 cups boiling water
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 lemon, squeezed and strained
Boil the water, remove from heat and pour over violets, cover and let steep for 2 hours.
Strain the violets
Put violet water back into pan, add sugar and bring to a boil
Add lemon juice, watch color change to purple
Reduce heat; simmer for about 10-20 minutes until the solution thickens
The violet syrup will keep for a month if kept tightly covered in the refrigerator.
Use for pancakes, angel food cake, between layers of vanilla cake, as the simple sugar for lemonade, and/or violet coolers for a refreshing drink.
2 cups violet syrup
2 1/2 c cold water
2 1/4 cups lemon juice or 10-14 freshly squeezed lemons
1 lime- juiced
Add the violet syrup to 2 1/2 cups cold water and lemon juice stirring well. Add a couple squeezes of lime juice (to your taste, we added the juice of 1 medium sized lime).
Add ice cubes just before serving. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with fresh violets.
Since we’ve been using mostly flowers up until now, here is a way to use the leaves if you so desire.
Violet Leaf Soap
14 ounces violet leaf infused oil
7 ounces coconut oil
2 ounces castor oil
2 ounces hemp oil
3 ounces sunflower oil
3.88 ounces of lye
8.5 ounces distilled water
(1 tsp natural coloring agent, if so desired)
Note: All units of measurement are by weight. Make sure you run this through a lye calculator to verify the specific amount of lye needed. I always do this when making soap, no matter how reliable the recipe. I also like to play with the types of oils. I like to add Vitamin E oil to everything, so feel free to alter as desired, so long as you aren’t a newbie.
Weigh out 3.88 ounces of sodium hydroxide into a small container and carefully pour into the cool tea or water. Stir with a heavy duty rubber or silicone spatula until dissolved. Always pour lye into liquid, and not the other way around. I always perform this step in the garage using a glass mason jar. Being outside lessens the fumes getting into my lungs. Allow the lye solution to cool to around 90 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the lye cools, measure out the oils, by weight, and place them in a stainless steel or enamel lined pot. (Never use aluminum.) Remove a tablespoon or two from the combined oils, place into a small bowl, and stir coloring powder into this portion. Set the colored oil aside for later.
Gently heat the pan of oils over a low burner until they’re around 90 to 110 degrees.
While the oil heats and the lye cools, prepare your mold(s). (This makes approx. 3 lbs.) When the lye solution and oils are roughly in the same temperature range, you’re ready to combine them together
Pour the lye solution into the oil. Using an immersion blender, start combining the two mixtures, working toward “trace”. When your soap reaches trace, stir in the small amount of reserved colored oil until thoroughly mixed. Pour the raw soap into the prepared mold.
Lightly cover your mold with its top or a piece of cardboard, then wrap in a few towels to insulate. Set in an out of the way place where you can allow it to rest for 48 hours. Check periodically after the initial 24 hours. If you see a crack forming along the top though, that means the soap is getting too hot and should be unwrapped.
Unmold, slice into bars and allow to cure on parchment paper for four to six weeks before using.
Violet Vinegar Recipe
Vinegar (I recommend white wine or apple cider vinegar)
Fill your jar about half full of violets. Pour vinegar over them and cap with a non-metallic lid. Vinegar will corrode metal, so if that’s the only type of cap you have, use a layer of plastic wrap between it and the vinegar.
Let this sit for a week or two in a cool, dark place. The vinegar will take on a gorgeous deep magenta hue. Sunlight will fade the colors faster than time alone.
Strain the vinegar and store for a year, possibly longer, in a glass container.
Use this for detoxifying baths, for sunburn, or (my favorite) to make violet infused vinaigrette for salads.
Combine 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons violet vinegar, 1 tablespoon crumbled bacon, 1/2 tablespoon chopped onion, 1 teaspoon honey, salt and pepper to taste. Shake together in a jar and let stand for twenty or thirty minutes so the flavors meld together. Shake again and pour over your salad.
I’m so happy that I get a small harvest of these each year. I wish I had more, but once the neighbors start spraying for weeds, I can’t eat them anymore. Just another reason I need out of the ‘burbs.