Violets - An Uncommonly Delicious Treat

Written by Matt Flower
    Tuesday, 06 May 2014
Violets - An Uncommonly Delicious Treat

Every spring I get excited about the start of the growing season. You may think that my name being Matt Flower drives this next statement, but really, I treat it as a family reunion. Each week old friends come back to visit — either nesting in the same woods, growing in the same spot, slithering by the same log or fluttering in the same area. One of my favorites friends of spring are the common violets — a small purple flower of the forest, field and lawn. Despite its common appearance and stature, the common violets is a giant among edibles. Packing as much vitamin C as a whole orange and the leaves are one of two wild plants topping the vitamin A charts, this flower makes a great edible.

My favorite spring treat is to create syrup and jam from violets. We have several patches in Riverside Park – located almost anywhere you look this time of year. You don’t need a lot of blossoms to make a batch (6) the jam and syrup made from the violets are a most beautiful shade of pink. Below are two violet recipes I like to use this time of year. Both the jam and the syrup are excellent, but the violet syrup is, dare I say, just as good as maple syrup on pancakes!

Matt's stove while making violet syrupViolet Syrup

Fill any size glass jar with Violet Blossoms

Pour boiling water over the blossoms - enough to cover

Put a lid on the jar and let sit for ~ 24 hours

Strain and save the blue liquid and compost the violet blossoms

For each cup of violet extract add…

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)

Bring to a boil (I keep it to a low boil for ~ 10 Minutes)

Carefully pour syrup into sterilized canning jars and cover

Refrigerate after cooled down. It should last several months

Violet Jam

1 cup Violet Blossoms – packed full

¾ cup Water

2 tablespoons lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)

Blend until it’s a smooth paste

Slowly add 2 ½ cups sugar until blended

Combine ¾ cup water and 1 package Pectin in sauce pan

Bring to boil and boil hard for 1 minute

Add to paste in blender

Blend for additional minute

Sterilize jars by putting them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes

Pour paste into sterilized jars and cover

Refrigerate (will last 3 weeks) or freeze for a winter treat

More reasons to give the common violet a try:

  1. It’s easy to pick – having kids help makes it even more fun
  2. It’s a false flower, so you’re not preventing the flower from propagating (picking the flowers actually triggers the plant to make more flowers — like deadheading an herb
  3. Violet jam or syrup make the perfect perennial Mother’s Day gift
Matt Flower

Matt Flower

Environmental Educator Matt Flower joined the Urban Ecology Center in 2006.  Matt received his Naturalist training at Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, Wisconsin and was an Educator and Land Manager at Neighborhood House’s Nature Center. He is married with two young children. Matt’s interests include birds, wild edibles, trees, winter ecology and, most of all, teaching kids how to explore wild spaces and make nature come alive. For Matt, a smile is worth a thousand words. He finds it empowering to work with people who love what they do.


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