We’ve had a long wait for spring this year and now as the sun shines, the desire for rich warming casseroles and hearty pies diminishes and we lighten the food a little. The stinging nettles have provided us with a nettle pesto to stir into pasta made with duck eggs, a few Jack by the Hedge leaves are mixed into salads to eat with a spoonful of unctuous mayonnaise made with the freshest eggs with their bright yellow yolks (yeah, yeah I know about raw eggs but we’re not very old or very young so we’ll take the risk).
And we have violets.
Last year I made Violet Liqueur, which was delicious in a cocktail but this year I decided to make Violet Syrup, which looks like meths but smells much better. Every year I try to bottle all the delicate scents and flavours of spring, so that I can eat or drink them through the winter, but that’s not actually what I want in the winter when instead, I crave spices like cinnamon and cloves on cold, dark days. Consequently,
I’ve vowed only to make small quantities that I can use within a few weeks
and have already finished the first batch of violet syrup and the jars of Violet Jam.
Some of the Violet Syrup has been mixed with soda water and a squirt of lemon juice to make a cordial to drink outside while the sun’s shining (think parma violets mixed with sherbet and water).
- 20 g violet flowers no stems
- 150 g sugar
- 75 ml water
- squeeze of lemon juice
Put the flowers and sugar into a bowl and using a wooden spoon or pestle, mix them well, bruising the petals. Leave this for a couple of hours so the sugar starts to turn a violet colour.
Pour over 75 ml of boiling water, stir well to dissolve the sugar and leave to stand overnight.
You’ll now have a bowl of not very pretty dark violet with a hint of green liquid. Squirt in some lemon juice and it will magically turn a brilliant violet colour.