Sunday, August 02, 2009

Yellow Violet Syrup

The violets carpet the woods in many places, seeming to thrive in small areas of clearing and in clusters under evergreen trees. The lavender violets are not as prolific, but the yellow ones scatter the forest floor like little beams of sunshine! They are tiny, but abundant. I decided that I should try my hand at a new recipe and make some violet syrup.

It is no small feat to pick two cups of yellow violet blossoms. They are tiny, delicate, and do not grow in clusters of blossoms. So, one by one, I picked the precious little bits of gold and put them in a secure zip-lock bag. The entire time, I kept one ear and eye tuned to the woods around me (and I didn't wander far away from the fence builder!) so that I could be aware and alert for wild animals like cougars and bears. Coco was my companion and together we enjoyed a yellow violet collecting walk through the woods. At first I used scissors to snip, but found it quicker and faster to bend and pinch with my fingers. By afternoon's end I decided there was enough for a cooking project and put the bags in the ice chest to stay cool.

Of course it was late when we arrived back home, and I was not in the mood to stay up and make violet syrup! To protect the delicate blossoms, I placed them in quart jars and filled them with water. Once lidded, they were placed in the refrigerator so they cold stay fresh and cool.

The next morning, after reading a variety of violet syrup recipes, I sent out an SOS to Clarice at Storybook Woods (she's an expert at rose syrup). She gave me a quick phone call (well, it wasn't really quick --- we enjoyed a lovely chat) and we consulted about the best formula options and techniques for delicate floral syrups.

I ended up using none of the recipes I'd found, but followed the general formula that Clarice and I discussed and made up this recipe for:

Gracious Hospitality's Yellow-Violets Syrup

3 cups yellow-violet water
[made from two cups violets and thee cups water]
6 cups organic sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Gently wash the violets blossoms and drain. Place in a mixing bowl. Heat three cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and gently pour over the violets. Cover immediately and allow to cool for 24 hours. Use a paper coffee filter to drain (1/2 cup at a time) the water into a small container. Toss away the violets and save the violet water.

Place violet water in a saucepan. Add sugar. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice (it will bring out the natural color of the violets, enhancing the syrup's appearance). Remove from heat.

[Clarice and I differed on our techniques at this point. I am still experimenting and wanted to try for a full-bodied syrup so I boiled the sugar mixture. Clarice does not, heating only to right below the boiling point for a thin, but flavorful syrup. She does this so the delicate floral essences are not destroyed by heat --- an excellent point.]

If canning, fill sterilized jars to the brim. Cap and process for 10 minutes in a water bath. Make pretty labels that say Yellow-Violets Syrup and attach one to each jar. Cap with a paper doily. Add a pretty ribbon or raffia to decorate.

Makes 8 jelly jars of syrup.

The flavor is delicate and delicious. May be used to enhance lemonade or iced tea, or for a topping for a frozen dessert. Great with fruit. Violet syrups are high in vitamin C and have been said to be beneficial and soothing for sore throats.

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