Wild violets recently starting popping up in my dreams and I took this as a sign to dig deeper with these plants but life gets in the way, we get busy and sometimes it doesn't get done. Luckily, violets found me this year and I was able to spend some quality time with these loving plants.
Viola is a small five petaled flower that can come in many different colours; purple, pink, white, lilac, yellow or blue. They have downy heart shaped leaves and when the violets bloom, spring has certainly arrived! Violets mostly enjoy shaded areas and can be found in parks, lawns, forest floors and places that retain a bit of moisture. I found my patch next to a small creek that is surrounded by cottonwoods.
Violets are ruled by Venus which gives them a very captivating and delicate energy. Violets are often associated with tranquility, beauty and peace. Their royal purple color also is connected to loyalty, devotion and consistency.
When it comes to herbal medicine, violets are mostly used for their cooling and mucilaginous qualities but they also possess many other healing properties. Violets can be helpful in getting lymph moving, it can be used as a spring tonic, it is often mentioned in old cases of conjunctivitis or eye inflammation, its oil has been used for ulcers, wounds and scabies along with breast tenderness and the simple inhalation of the aroma the flowers hold can relieve pain in congestive headaches. Violet also have a history of being used in cases of congestion in the airways, coughs and pleurisy.
Violets can be helpful for those who are shy or introverted. It is a very gentle plant and can also help with heartache or grief even with unknown cause. Violet is also a highly spiritual plant being considered very emotionally-attuned and empathetic.
Spring time delivers many of these delicate flowers so harvest can be done quite easily, you may even have some growing in the shady spots of your yard! You can use both the leaves and the flowers when formulating with Violet ~ for these recipes I used mostly just the flower heads and a bit of the calyx and stem. Be aware that any green in your recipes can make for a murkier color so if you are going for bright, vibrant colours use strictly just the flower heads.
Syrups are one of the easiest preparations to make with plants! They can be made from fresh or dried plants but I always suggest trying fresh material. This allows you to capture the life energy of the plant and can add to the strength and energy of your medicine. Syrups consist of plant material, distilled water and sugar. Yep, its that simple!
4 Cups Violet Flowers
2 Cups Distilled Water
4 Cups Sugar (at these amounts the sugar acts as a preservative)
Medium Sized Pot
Spoon to Stir Mixture
Gather your violets - remove stems and place flower heads into bowl to the side.
Begin heating your water - you can bring it to a boil and then turn heat down to low or you can slowly heat your water to below a simmering temperature. It should be warm-slightly hot, not simmering or boiling.
Once your water has cooled or warmed enough, add your violets to the pot.
Cover and let sit overnight or for at least 8 hours.
Strain violets out of your infusion.
Transfer infusion into a pot and heat on LOW.
Once the infusion is warm, add your sugar. The water only needs to be warm enough for your sugar to dissolve.
Pour into glass container, admire the beautiful color and store in the fridge!
Your syrup will last up to 2 months in the refrigerator. A tablespoon or two tastes great in sparkling water, added to teas as a honey or sugar substitute, cocktails or just plain water! Experiment and find what tastes best to you!
* You can alter the color to a more purple hue by adding lemon juice! Start slow and watch the magic happen!
Infused vinegars are also an amazing way for beginners to experiment and work with plants. This recipe only requires 2 ingredients! Violets and vinegar! For this recipe I used a 500ml mason jar and filled it half full with fresh violets. A good rule for this recipe is to fill your container half way with plant material depending on the size.
1 Cup Violets
2 Cups Vinegar (you can use white or apple cider vinegar just make sure the acid percentage is at least 5%)
Mason Jar with Lid
Gather your violets and measure out half the amount your container of choice holds.
Once your violets reach the halfway mark of your container simply pour your vinegar over top! Make sure to fill as close to the top as possible to prevent oxidation.
Cover and close your container and keep in a cool, dark place. Shake your container daily until you strain the violets out ~ 1-2 weeks.
Strain your violets out, label your formula and keep it in a cool, dark place to preserve. You can use this as a salad dressing, a medicine in itself or you can use it to make other preparations like we will below!
Our vinegar recipe will take us into our next one, a Violet Oxymel, which is a mixture of honey and infused vinegar.
As I mentioned above, oxymels are a syrup created by mixing an infused vinegar with honey. Oxymels are a palatable way to enjoy the medicinal benefits of the herb/plant as well as the benefits of the vinegar. These can be easily formulated to be sweet or more on the bitter/sour side - it's entirely up to you in regards to the ratio of the vinegar and honey ~ experiment and see which ratio works best. My recipe follows a standard 1:1 ratio.
1 Cup Violet Infused Vinegar
1 Cup Honey
Mason Jar or Similar Container for Storage
Measure out equal amounts of both your honey and your violet vinegar.
Mix together and store! Oxymels can keep for around 6 months out of the refrigerator (in a cool, dark spot away from direct sunlight) if you want to lengthen shelf time keep it in the fridge. Take 1-2 Tablespoons up to 3 times a day!
Working with violets is a beautiful way to welcome Spring and the creations you can make with them are stunning! Keep an eye out for these little flowers on your spring adventures, give em a little sniff and enjoy the grape like scent and notice how they can't help but bring a smile to your face. Happy (short but oh so loved) Violet Season!