Foraging for Violets – Violet Syrup and Bonus Cocktail

plate of violets

How about some foraging projects this weekend? The weather is BEAUTIFUL here in Brooklyn, as was last weekend. With a little chilliness in between. But with the fantastic weather last weekend, I tested the foraging skills I learned on a tour with Leda Meredith. I came home with several quarts of violets, two quarts of dandelions and plans to turn these beautiful edibles into delectable treats. I felt a little bad because I was fairly certain I had cleared out all the violets in Owl’s Head Park, Brooklyn (don’t worry–I couldn’t even make a dent in the dandelion population. However, on my walk yesterday afternoon, I found probably three times the violets I had seen the previous weekend. They returned with a vengeance, a forager’s own utopia.

This weekend I challenge you to get outside and enjoy the weather, and most importantly forage for your own beautiful violets, before they’re gone for the year. As a reward, I’ll share a new violet recipe each day this weekend. And since it’s Friday night, and we’re all done with this hectic work week (let’s be honest, we were done on Tuesday), it’s only proper to start with a cocktail using homemade violet syrup.

Imagine your run of the mill simple syrup. Sweet yet boring. Now imagine it as a brilliant purple with a mellowed floral scent. When I first saw Leda’s recipe for violet syrup, I was a bit intrigued of course, but didn’t really have any idea what I would do with it. Once her suggestion to turn it into a cocktail came into the picture, I was all ears. The syrup is simple as can be. The only catch is you need a good day before it’s ready to consume. Yes, so I tricked you a bit. You’re reading this, hovering near the liqueur cabinet, ready to pull out some spirits and mix a drink. But just think, if you start right away, you’ll be all set for Sunday night, right before the work week starts when you probably really need a drink…

Homemade Violet Syrup

Homemade Violet Syrup

Violet Syrup (Adapted from Leda Meredith) Makes 1 Pint

  • 1 1/2 c violet flowers, tightly packed
  • 1 1/2 c boiling water
  • 2 c white sugar (while I would normally advocate for raw sugar, the white sugar is essential in maintaining that beautiful purple color)

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. You’re saving the petals only.

Put the violet petals into a heat-proof, small stainless steel saucepan or bowl and add boiling water. Stir to make sure the petals are completely submerged. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. The liquid will turn a gorgeous clear blue with a slightly lavender hue.

Strain syrup through a fine sieve to remove flowers and discard them. Prepare your double boiler or simply fill a slightly larger saucepan with an inch or so of water and rest the smaller one inside it. Add sugar to violets and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved. Let syrup cool to room temperature, then transfer to glass jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Fizzy Violet Cocktail (Serves 2)

  • 3 oz vodka
  • 2 oz violet syrup
  • Lots of ice
  • 6 oz tonic water

Mix vodka, violet syrup and several ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Notice how when you add the vodka, the syrup becomes blue greenish–don’t be alarmed! Shake vigorously for about 5 seconds. Add three ice cubes to each glass and divide tonic water between them. Pour in the vodka violet blend into both glass (back to a beautiful light purple!), and serve.

I'm not usually an advocate for plasticware but look how stunning!

I’m not usually an advocate for plastic-ware but look how stunning in the sunlight!

If you want to get really fancy, add a violet ice cube. Fill a regular ice cube tray half way and let the water freeze for a few hours. Add one violet flower to each ice cube, top off with water and freeze again. Perfectly adorable ice cubes!

violet ice cubes

Violet Ice Cubes

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20 comments on “Foraging for Violets – Violet Syrup and Bonus Cocktail

  1. How beautiful, I have never tasted violet syrup, the color is amazing. I have to find some violets and give this a try.

    • It’s very sweet but with a light floral flavor. Really it’s the color that made me swoon. It seems you can mix it with any neutral spirit. Vodka is my drink of choice but I wonder how it would taste in gin. Maybe more floral because of all the botanicals?

  2. […] I challenged you to violet foraging this weekend, what I really meant was a few hours outside, collecting flowers, getting a bit a of a […]

  3. I’m generally not a mixed drink girl, but those violet ice cubes would win you major host points if one was in my drink one day.

    • Haha, I can’t promise anything will be left by Mothers Day. I’m not a huge cocktail fan either but the brightness of the violets and tang of the tonic water (q tonic only) makes a great combination.

  4. Julie says:

    This is mind-bogglingly awesome. My envy is as purple as those flowers. I wonder if Philly has violets…

    • I would imagine they have to exist somewhere in Philly. I went to my neighborhood’s park and found them all over–sometimes in the garden area where I might have hoped a fence (it was partially broken, so in my defense, I think they wanted to me to there), in the shade of larger oak trees and on top of sunny hills. I also noticed they grew closely (often in the middle of) dandelion patches. I would think if no where else, they’d exist somewhere in Fairmount Park. I haven’t been there in a while now, but I remember it being big and pretty varied on landscape.

      • Julie says:

        There is a part of Fairmount Park by my house that isn’t trodden non-stop. I’ll give it a shot this weekend. There’s nothing deadly that looks just like a violet, right?

      • Not that I know of. There is a plant that has similar flowers but leaves more like ivy. I don’t know what those are, but wouldn’t eat them. But looking at the whole plant, violets are pretty unique I think.

  5. Are these violas or violets? I am staring at the pics, but having a hard time distinguishing. I have both growing in my yard, but these are more the colour of my violas, but they look a little different somehow. Could you post an update with pics of the entire plant? This recipe looks so fabulous, I must try it. I do use violas in icecubes, and those look fabulous in a lady-like cocktail. I’ve never tried anything culinary with the violas.

    • I had never heard of violas and looking online, I’m having trouble seeing the difference between viola and violet flowers. It seems some violas have more pointed leaves, while the violets have rounder, almost heartish leaves. I’m sorry that I don’t have a full photo of the growing plants. When I photographed some earlier, they were growing sparsley and didn’t serve as a good photo. And when I finally found a good patch, I think I was just too excited and picked without remembering to photograph. Anyway, I found a picture online of what I picked. Hope that helps! http://auntiedogmasgardenspot.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/violets-62643.jpg

  6. […] a little late in the night, I know. I’m here sipping on the last of my fizzy violet cocktail. Not so fizzy anymore. We hosted my family yesterday for my mom’s birthday, with a good deal […]

  7. Thanks for showing the pic of the plant. Violas are like miniature pansies, and almost like weeds, once you have one plant. My violets are not as bright as yours though. Most are a pale blue. I think I’ll try your recipe anyway!

  8. […] new foraging skills. Over the past few weeks I’ve gone a bit crazy with violets–jelly, syrup, candies–and I might have just one more recipe up my sleeve if I can find some more flowers […]

  9. […] Foraging for Violets – Violet Syrup and Bonus Cocktail (bklynlocavore.com) […]

  10. […] see, I was inspired by this blog post from Melissa, the Brooklyn Locavore: violet syrup! She, in turn, learned from foraging queen Leda Meredith. My word, look at the amazing colors of […]

  11. I got this site from my buddy who informed me concerning this site and now this time I am visiting
    this web site and reading very informative articles
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  12. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
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  13. […] really get much use out of it until the summer produce started to ripen. I first tried it with some violet syrup and vodka–quite a success. Then there was my accidental strawberry rhubarb pie cocktail. My […]

  14. We tend to use them from time to time in our cocktails and we’ll surely try the violet ice cubes with some of our cocktails. Nice post!

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