Friday 14 March 2014

Violet Syrup Recipe

Sweet violets are so many people's favourites (including one of mine) so when they are in season I try and get the most out of them.  Violet syrup is such a beautiful and easy way to bring out the best in these tiny blooms. 

The Recipe
1 jar of violets
1 jar of boiling water
2 jars of caster sugar

Pick and wash a quantity of sweet violets ensuring they are pesticide free.

Remove the stalks and any ‘green', this is a bit fiddly as anyone who has crystallised violets will know. Place in a heat proof container and cover with the same amount of boiling water. Leave for 24 hours to infuse.

After the violets have infused overnight in water, place the liquid and violets in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water. Add the caster sugar and stir in. Keep the water in the saucepan simmering until all the sugar has dissolved. Strain through a fine meshed sieve and pour the violet syrup into an airtight sterilised container.  It will keep in the fridge for several months.

 I love the comparison between the 'before and after' flowers.

The pale blue leftover wet violets with their flaccid structure and shape, remind me of cockles, but that’s just my poor brain making strange comparisons as always (of course the violets are far more attractive and less chewy).

The colour you get after infusion is very dependent on the violets you select, the paler mauve violets produce a blue colour and the darker ones a purple liquid.

I have tried many different ways of making violet syrup with different results. Some recipes suggest putting in lemon juice then boiling up with sugar over a direct heat, other recipes omit the lemon juice and some use a bain marie technique.  For me, the quintessential feature of a violet syrup (after the flavour) is the colour and keeping it as authentic as possible.  The processes I have tried are shown below (like a school science experiment in colour chemistry).  From left to right, nothing added (and here I used paler violets hence the bluey colour), lemon juice added, then boiled with lemon juice. So you can see the different reaction and results each process had on the colour.  

There are so many ways to use the syrup once it is made including, as a cordial with sparkling water or sparkling wine, on ice creams, in butter icing, with crepes, a mixer with cocktails, frozen in ice cubes ........ the list is endless so here are a few things to start your creative violet juices flowing!