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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Beautifully Simple Violet Syrup

Last year I went all out and made Violet Syrup.

I also learned a few questionable things about canning it.

Which leaves me this year with a little freedom to have fun, since, well, I could care less about putting it up for later.

So it got me thinking, why go through the long process of boiling things down to make syrup when I could just go as simple as possible and make ...simple…syrup!

I mean seriously, look at that glittering jar of wickedly awesome purpleness up there.

Now, I will say, this is without a doubt a pure sugar syrup, which in our house, falls into the treat category. But it's spring, and after a boring, bleak winter, some color and treats are in order.

First, you need a shit-ton of violets. <--This is not a joke.

I actually gathered FOUR full cups, because I am also experimenting with making violet candy. It's a work in progress, but I think I may have nailed down a successful process, I just need to wait a few days for more violets to bloom.

If you just want to make the simple syrup you only need TWO full cups.

You'll also want to used pure white sugar to retain the flavor (which is very lightly floral and very sugary sweet), but also for color reasons, the more 'molasses-like' turbinado sugars are going to brown your syrup down some.

Violet Simple Syrup

by Christine Mercer-Vernon
Prep Time: 12-18 hours
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
Keywords: beverage gluten-free soy-free Violet Flowers violet syrup sugar lemon Easter spring

Ingredients (1 full Pint)
  • 2 cups fresh picked Violet blossoms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup regular white sugar (not any brown sugars such as natural cane or turbinado, the flavor will overpower the violets and discolor your syrup)
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
Gently rinse your Violet flowers (no stems) by submerging them in a small bowl of cool water. 

Remove carefully and drain in a colander or sieve, shaking gently to remove excess water. (blossoms will compact some, this is ok)

Put in a heat proof, non-reactive bowl and pour boiling water over blossoms. Using spoon, gently submerge the blossom, then cover and set aside on the counter overnight or for 12-18 hours.

Pour through a fine sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth to strain.

Gently squeeze flowers a few times by removing them from the cheesecloth and squeezing the liquid back through the sieve/cheesecloth to catch any last debris. Do not squeeze them completely dry. Just a few gently squeezes to remove some of the liquid.

Check your liquid, if there is a lot of debris floating in it, pour through the fine sieve again, lined with new cheesecloth.

Measure liquid, you should have 1 cup, if not add water to equal 1 cup, or adjust sugar down to equal same amount as liquid. You want to use equal parts of liquid and sugar.

Pour liquid into small non-reactive pot and add sugar. Heat over medium high heat until stirring until all sugar is dissolved.

Do not freak out, your liquid will turn a very unattractive, greenish blue color.

Remove from heat and 1/4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, your syrup will return to a beautiful violet color. (I did not test this with bottled lemon juice, so I'm not sure if the preservatives used would discolor the syrup)

Pour into clean, sterile jar and refrigerate up to one month.

VIOLETS: Though tempting, never ever pick flowers from the roadside or treated lawns and meadows as the chemicals in these areas are not to be digested. Choose areas away from streets and areas that are treated with any sort of chemical or exposed to road or farm field run-off.

Violet Simple Syrup can be used to Violet Lemon Seltzers or to sweeten lemonades, iced teas and any assortment of beverages you wish to make. Adding more lemon juice will increase the color towards fuschia.
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How Gorgeous is this?


Maria said...

Oh that blue is amazing... I have two cups all steeped and I couldn't stop staring at my jar the whole time! Two quick questions: 1) I picked these bad boys, steeped them, then came down with a 5 day fever. I just got around to straining them today. Do you think that will affect it much? The jar was in the fridge most of the time. 2) I just love the blue color so much that I hate the thought of adding the lemon juice. Does it add much to the syrup or can I skip it altogether? Now that I'm better I want to run out and pick more but they're all wilted now! I guess I'll have to experiment with the leaves instead!

cmv... said...

Hi Maria! If you kept them in the fridge they should be ok. Give them a good straining and make sure there is no sliminess, no bad odor. If there is, or anything makes you feel uncomfortable, I would start over, but if it feels like you are just squeezing out the flowers with no funky stuff you should be good. I myself steeped both dandelions and violets about 5 days ago and came down with a nasty, nasty cold so I did strain mine first, then placed them in the fridge. I'll be making syrup today.
The blue color will change when you heat it to a really ugly looking greenish blue color. I add just enough lemon juice to bring back a nice blue violet color (1/4 tsp). You won't taste the lemon at all, it's just enough to cause a reaction to bring back color. You can add more if you want to bring it more towards fuchsia but then you will have some lemon flavor. My daughter loves making the violet lemon seltzers, the pink color makes her very happy. So glad you are trying it. It's a fun spring tradition.

Maria said...

Thank you! I didn't notice anything off when I strained them so I'm probably good to go. I had a feeing I wasn't going to strain them in time so I had turned the jar (a big old olive jar) upside down after adding the boiling water and it sealed itself! Nothing in or out! I was more worried about the long steeping affecting the taste, but I think I'll make it anyway and find out the fun way. Well, It sounds like I wont get to keep that gorgeous blue color no matter what I do. Bummer. I'll have to make a batch or two every spring just to get my color fix!

cmv... said...

sadly no, but the finished color is quite beautiful. i usually make as many batches as possible each spring. Same with dandelions.

Maria said...

Woohoo! I think I managed to keep most of the color! Due to the long steep, my violet water was a deep, concentrated amethyst color. I cooked it in a 4c glass measuring cup set in a saucepan of water, double-boiler style. My reason was so I could use the pour spout to fill my bottles, but I think the gentler heat preserved most of the color. (I only heated it til the sugar was dissolved, per the recipe on this page) The color never changed to a muddy brown so I skipped the lemon juice. Its still a gorgeous amethyst color!

cmv... said...

That's great Maria! I, unfortunately do not possess your level of patience! haha

Maria said...

Egads, what patience? haha! Had I not gotten sick I would have strained that baby first thing in the morning! I almost wish I had. As much as I love the amethyst color, the initial blue was downright entrancing. Next year I'm going to try both the long steep and the short steep, but both with the double boiler method. It really didn't take long at all for the sugar to fully dissolve that way.

newsie15 said...

Where do you get your flowers? I live in Dallastown and I rent, so I'm not sure of my options.

cmv... said...

I pick mine in my yard. I would be careful if you choose to pick them at a park or even where you rent. Be sure that any sort of chemicals are not used. You don't want to be ingesting them. Safest bet is from the yard of someone you know. :]

tpescdoc said...

Yes, shit -ton is the perfect adjective for the amount of violets needed. I made violet jelly last year and collected violets for what seemed forever.

michelle said...

Can this be canned? It is similar to my violet jelly recipe except less water and sugar....

michelle said...

Can this be canned? It is similar to my violet jelly recipe except less water and sugar....

Christine Mercer-Vernon said...

Hi MIchelle, I've never canned it, it's not a USDA approved recipe, but it doesn't mean it can't be. I can my violet jelly and dandelion syrup... although if you go through my posts, you'll find that the other year I had issues with some sort of growths within both, possibly from some sort of fungus spores that were on the flowers. If you can them, I'd still try to use it up rather quickly and examine well prior to consuming.

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