Saturday, 2 April 2011

Yesterday I went to the Rollright stone circle in my search for violets, I can’t find any near to home but knew they grew here and it was worth the journey to come to such a special place even if I didn’t find any violets. I have purchased some violet seeds to plant in the autumn and my friend Jacki is splitting her clump to give me some so next year should be easier. My single garden violet plant has not grown this year.

 I found three violet flowers and was feeling a bit disappointed about it but came across a clump as I was returning to the car. I felt I had enough to at least test out a violet syrup recipe, to see if I could see the colour change and to have a taste.

 The recipe I found was on the Herban Lifestyle blog and I adjusted it for my small quantity. The original recipe has 1 cup of violets steeped for 24 hours in 1 cup of boiling water. The strained liquid is mixed with the juice of ½ lemon and 2 cups of sugar and simmered in a pan for 10 minutes.
 I only had ¼ cup of violets so put them in a little jar with an equal quantity of boiling water. I can’t tell you how amazed I was when the violets started to ooze out a beautiful blue colour as I had seen in pictures. There was an earthy smell but I definitely could smell violets. I then had to leave them for 24 hours and decided to add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and ½ cup of sugar.

 24 hours after leaving my violets to steep in the boiled water the flowers had lost their colour and were translucent and the beautiful blue colour now seemed light green, is this because I left the green parts on the flowers? I added the lemon juice and sugar and continued with the recipe, my resulting syrup was sweet with the sharp taste of lemon and was an amber yellow colour although it was not unpleasant it was without any real violet taste. I think to get a good result a better quantity of flowers is required.
 Violet flowers are said to be slightly sedative so helpful for anxiety and insomnia. In history syrup of violets has been used for ague, epilepsy, inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, jaundice and quinsy. Pliny said that the smell of violets could cure a headache. Violets have a mild laxative effect so don’t take a great quantity unless this effect is required.
 Violet syrup can be used in cocktails such as a Violet Martini or a Violet Kir; you can pour it over a desert such as ice cream, or use as a cold drink.  

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