The flowers are well known in crystallized form for decorating cakes, puddings, ice cream and homemade sweets. Slightly tart leaves are delicious in salads, not only good for you they surprisingly good when cooked and served like spinach. Gather only bright-green leaves while they are young and tender. Wash thoroughly to remove dirt, then snip into ? inch shreds with kitchen shears. Add very little water and cook in covered pot about 15 minutes. Season with salt and butter. They blend well with members of the mustard family. Flowers can be floated on soups for a delightful garnish. Leaves and flowers also make an interesting oil with almond oil as a base. Violet vinegar, made by steeping the flowers in white vinegar, has a delicious scent and beautiful color. Queen Victoria was fond of violet tea with honey, and in the Middle Ages, a broth of violets, fennel and savory was popular.
1 cup water, 3 cups granulated sugar, 1-1/2 cup violet blossoms. In a non-aluminum saucepan, boil all ingredients for 10 minutes or until thickened. Strain through cheesecloth into clean glass jar. Seal and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Another method says add 3 fluid ounces of boiling water to 2 ounces of fresh flowers. Cover and infuse for 24 hours. Strain, then add ? cup sugar and heat to dissolve. Cool and bottle. The syrup is beautiful, a clear violet color, combining the taste of sweet, sour, bitter and aromatic. It is good on pancakes and a couple of spoonfuls over a hot, broiled grapefruit is delicious and decorative. Violet syrup is also good “on the rocks.” Pour 2 tablespoons of syrup over 2-3 ice cubes in a tall glass, then fill with water and stir. It delights the taste buds as well as the eyes. To make a violet sherbet, stir violet syrup into newly fallen snow until the color and consistency are pleasing.
MARMALADE OF VIOLETS
8 oz violet flowers, 1 ? pound of sugar and ? cup water
Crush violets in mortar. Boil sugar and water to a syrup and when boiling, add the flowers. Allow it to come to boil five or six times over a slow fire. Stir with wooden spoon and pour into little pots while hot.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon of gum arabic in 1 tablespoon of rose water and leave until the solution becomes a paste. Using a small brush, paint each violet all over with the solution, then dip the flowers in superfine sugar. Leave to dry on a wire rack in a warm place. Store in petals in an airtight container. Use on desserts as an edible garnish. Or, a quick way to make candied violets is to brush fresh flowers with egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Put as many blossoms as you can pack into 1 cup in your electric blender, add ? cup of water and the juice of 1 lemon, and blend until you have a smooth, violet-colored paste. Slowly add 2 ? cups sugar and blend until it is dissolved. Stir one package of powdered pectin into ? cup water, bring to boil and boil hard 1 minute. Pour this hot mixture into the blender with the other ingredients and blend about 1 minute. This jam keeps for about 3 weeks stored in the refrigerator or put in freezer.
This is said to be good for the complexion. Pour 10 ounces warm milk over a large handful of violet flowers. Steep for several hours, strain and keep in a bottle in the refrigerator. Soak cotton balls in this violet milk and pat over face and neck twice a day.
To make a violet ointment, melt 1 ounce of lanolin and 3 ounces of cocoa butter in a small stone jar. Add as many fresh violet leaves as the melted fats will cover, set in a medium over at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Pour through a strainer to remove the spent leaves, then store in covered jars. This is a good old-fashioned herbal remedy reputed to aid the healing of sores on both man and beast.
SAGE & SWEET VIOLET CREAM
Helps alleviate cold sores and soothes and protects swollen, painful or chapped lips
Put 2 tablespoons each of finely chopped fresh sage and sweet violet leaves along with 4 tablespoons of almond oil, in a small stopper jar.
Beat to mix until cold. Store in an airtight jar in a cool place. Apply twice a day or as required.