Springtime has officially hit the San Francisco area and the farmers market bounty is literally overflowing on my kitchen table. Ramps, Fiddlehead Ferns, Borage and more. These are all sure signs of Spring and all suffer from a sadly short availability window – usually just a few weeks. Also on that rarefied short list of Springtime goodness – violets. 🙂
For those lucky enough to have wild violets blooming near them or in their garden (and that are unsprayed), you have the fortuitous opportunity in this brief season to make one of my favorite recipes – wild violet syrup! The combination of floral, sweet and violet notes are simply remarkable and it is not a difficult recipe to put together.
Violet syrup is ludicrously delicious on anything from pancakes to ice cream – and it is also an excellent mixer for a signature cocktail! There are a number of Persian recipes for violet or rose syrup poured over finely powdered ice – the world’s first sherbets, in fact! Try it in some lemonade, as a secret ingredient in blueberry pie – the sky is literally the limit with this versatile ingredient.
Once made, Violet Syrup is pretty much immortal as long as you bottle it properly and keep it refrigerated. Make enough of it and it will last you until the next Violet season – most recipes need only a teaspoon or so of this powerful elixir!
There’s also an intriguing bit of chemistry involved here – when you first juice the violets, the color will actually be more green than anything else. Once you add the lemon juice though – the violet color quickly emerges. It’s the lack of lemon juice that screws up most people’s attempt to make this – the color is all wrong and they quickly give up.
My Citizens – this is easy to make and I encourage you to give it a try – you’ll thank me. 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
4 cups of Violets; freshly picked and unsprayed
2 cups of Boiling water
6 cups of Sugar
The juice from 1 Meyer Lemon (preferred as it’s less acidic) or a regular lemon
2 cups of room temperature Water
Select only the freshest and most unblemished violets in your garden or from the wild. Place violet petals in a deep bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Weigh them down with a heavy dish to keep them submerged. Place the bowl in a draft-free place at room temperature for 24 hours.
Line a colander with layers of rinsed cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour violets and liquid into colander, squeezing out juice from the violets; discard the violets. Place sugar and water in a saucepan and boil into a very thick syrup, near the candy stage.
Add violet water and bring to a rolling boil. Add lemon juice in small amounts until desired color is attained. Boil 10 minutes or until thickened. Pour into sterile bottles. Allow to cool, then seal and refrigerate.