Simple Springtime Violets
In our family, we had an amazing Nana (and great-Nana!) named Violet. Abandoned by her father shortly after the death of her mother in the early 1900s, she and her sister were placed in an orphanage in England. Later, she found work on an estate, married one of the gardeners and together they immigrated to Canada, settling in Saskatchewan at the beginning of the Dust Bowl Years. Life for them wasn't easy, but Nana Vi was an amazing gardener herself and could always make ‘something from nothing’, confident in the fact that if you had a cow and chickens you would never go hungry. Like the tiny violet that briefly makes its presence known to us each spring, Nana Vi was resilient and full of determination. We think of her each April as we catch a glimpse of sweet scented violets popping up among the grass – flowers that are as beautiful and diverse as she was!
Sweet Violet Simple Syrup
This syrup is easy to make and delicious when drizzled over fresh fruit or in a cocktail!
- 60-70 fresh violet flowers (viola odorata)
- 1 cup of berry sugar
- 1 cup of cold water
- Juice of 1 large lemon
Make certain your violets are clean; gently wash and pat dry if necessary. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan; stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and gently stir in the violets. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let stand for 30 minutes.
Check the flavour of the syrup, if you find it too faint, gently return the pot to a boil, remove from heat and let stand another 5 minutes.
Strain the syrup through cheesecloth or a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup. Add the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon, stir well.
Pour your syrup into glass bottles and tightly seal. (You can use a sterilized wine bottle and the plastic corks found in the u-brew section of a grocery store). You can keep this in the fridge for about 2 weeks. You could also freeze the syrup to enjoy later in the summer or bottle as a hot pack for a longer shelf life.
Violet-Infused French 75 Cocktail
This recipe by Feasting at Home makes a delightfully purple cocktail, perfect for any special springtime occasion!
- 2 tbsp of gin
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp of violet syrup
Rim a champagne flute with violet-infused cocktail sugar. Pour syrup mix into the flute and fill to the top with Champagne or Prosecco. Garnish with a freshly picked violet...et voila!