Violet flowers (Viola species) are a gorgeous part of Spring's blossom display. The jewel-like color and subtle flavor of this syrup preserves them for year-round enjoyment.
- 1 cup lightly packed violet flowers (no stems)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup sugar
- Gather the violets by pinching them off at the tops of the stems. Remove the calyxes (the green parts at the bases of the flowers) by twisting the petals free. Save the petals and compost or discard the calyxes.
- Put the violet petals into a heat-proof, non-reactive container, such as a glass canning jar or a stainless steel food storage container. Do not use plastic or aluminum.
- Bring the cup of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the violet petals. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. The liquid will turn a gorgeous clear blue with a slightly lavender hue.
Important: the violet extraction is pH sensitive. If your water is "hard" (alkaline), you can add lemon juice to get the blue color, but you'll lose the subtle flavor of the violets. A better option is to use distilled water.
- Pour the liquid and the petals into the top of a bain-marie (double boiler). If you don't have one, you can simply put an inch or two of water in a pot over medium-high heat and set a large stainless steel or another heat-proof bowl on top of the pot. Put the violets and their infusion into the bowl.
- Add the sugar. Cook the syrup over the steam created by the bain-marie, stirring often, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Note: although I'm not usually a big fan of white sugar, it is important not to use anything else for this recipe or you'll lose the exquisite color.
- Strain the syrup through a finely meshed sieve to remove the flower petals. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then transfer it to glass jars, label them, and store in the refrigerator.
Violet flower syrup will keep, refrigerated, for at least 6 months.
How to use violet flower syrup:
- Use an ice cream machine and turn your violet blossom syrup into sorbet. Don't have an ice cream machine? Make granita instead.
- Use to moisten cake or scones.
- Create cocktails that show off its beautiful color. Use a clear liquor such as vodka or gin, and try adding a sparkling water such as seltzer or club soda. If you'll be sipping your violet blossom cocktail while the violet plants are still in bloom, you can get fancy with this by making floral ice cubes to add to the drink.
- Pour a little bit over custards or puddings.
- Drizzle over fruit salad or any fresh fruit (violet flower syrup goes especially well with fresh strawberries).