FORAGING FOR VIOLETS?

Keith Davis – F&B Director (& Forager Extraordinaire!)

 

Spring is a hectic time of year; the hotel is jamming, school activities are at a peak before year ends, the woods which awakened a few months ago are at full throttle, garden plants are growing, and the mushrooms are ready to sprout.  So, unfortunately, I don’t get the chance to go out and walk as much as I would like to do, but still manage a few hours a week.  So it was a few weeks ago when I went out with my son to pick violets.  Yes violets, which are one of many edible flowers.

 

As a young boy, just about my son’s age, I would walk down to a special patch of woods that I knew had violets, and pick a bunch for my mom.  These were for a vase, not for consumption. This patch contained several varieties/colors of violets; purple, blue, white, and yellow.  For my purposes now, only the purple and blue violets are the ones I want.  The other colors can contain compounds that you should not digest.

A small patch of spring wild violets.

For more on Violets click here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_(plant)

I enlisted my youngest son to help me forage.

violets2

 

A container of wild violets, Viola odorata.

violets 3

So what can you do with wild violets? They can be cut at the flower base and added uncooked to any salad.  But for my purposes here, I was looking to do something a little more creative.  I was going to make my own Crème de Violette, which actually doesn’t contain any cream what so ever, but is basically a violet infused alcoholic syrup used in cocktails. And I wanted to use this syrup for a special function, so I needed a lot of violets.   There are a few brands of Crème de Violet you can buy, made with a neutral base or with brandy.  But I like to go the natural way and make my own.

Once you pick a fair quantity of violets, you need to remove the actual petals from the plant/stem, or calyx.  This takes some time, but if you skip this step, the syrup will be bitter and not taste as pure.  The syrup ends up a light purple, and smells a little grape/violet like. A neat thing is that when making this, even the sugar gets an aroma that is definitely violet.  It is great when added to champagne, a special cocktail, or even just added to soda water. For a few ideas, see:

http://www.foodandwine.com/fwx/drink/3-cr-me-de-violette-cocktails-get-you-ready-spring

Crème de Violette

1 part violet petals

2 parts vodka

2 parts sugar

1 part water

Juice for ½ a lemon

>In 2 mason jars, place ½ of the petals in each.

>add the vodka to one and cover with a lid, shake to mix.

>add the sugar to the other jar, again cover and shake to mix.

>Let the jars sit to infuse for 4 to 5 days.

>add water to a sauce pan, and add the sugar mixture, mix and bring to a slight boil. Remove from the heat and let the mixture sit till cool.

>Combine the jar with the infused vodka to the syrup, add lemon juice, and strain to remove the petals.

Keep in a cool dark place.  Shake mixture before using.

A batch of the violet petals.                       Sugar/petal mixture  and Vodka/petal mixture

 

 

 

 

 

 

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