Today has been blustery, with March winds and chilly temperatures, and, in typical style for me, I decided to hike into town to post a few things and forage for some of the delightful violets that are in full bloom everywhere at the moment. I suspect anyone walking past while I was gathering violets would have been faintly bemused at one point, as I was half under a hedge with hawthorn twigs and thorns in my hair! Still, much ambling about yielded about a half pint of loosely packed violet flowers, found under hedgerows and in the edges of woodlands. Just up the road from my home is a small woodland that is literally carpeted with sweet violets, and though subtle, the scent is sublime!
If you want to gather violets, expect to spend a lot of time rummaging around in the grass. Slow down and amble. Check woodlands and hedgerows, and take time to just wander along and enjoy the day. I sometimes think that the lovely violet needs to be sidled up to instead of approached directly!
I opted to make a simple syrup from the first batch of violet flowers, which, strangely enough, did not preserve the fragrance of the violets at all – instead, on slow warming, the scent of overcooked cabbage emerged. You can imagine the look on my face at the smell of it as I am not a great fan of cabbage!
Violets have quite a bit of mucilage in them, and this is actually quite apparent even in a simple infusion of herbs and water. The surface of the liquid had a slightly oily look to it, and squeezing the water out of the spent herbs at the end of the infusion was a decidedly gooey experience! I used basic proportions – 1/2 pint of violet flowers to 1/2 pint of filtered water, with 300g of sugar, slowly warmed until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for a good five minutes, stirring regularly. I’d probably take maybe a teaspoon of this for strained nerves, fraught temper, headaches, and also to relieve catarrh in coughs and colds. Its quite interesting to note that even a small drop of the syrup has a noticeable effect on catarrh!
I plan to gather a load more violets before spring gets thoroughly underway – I want to make a violet tincture, and also a violet honey, if I can find enough flowers, but that, dear reader, is a blog for another day! 😀