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Making Wild Violet Syrup

May 3rd, 2011

I mentioned yesterday that the wild violets were in full bloom and we’d been harvesting the blooms and the leaves for our salads. Since I don’t treat my lawn in any way, the violets have slowly taken over and now my entire lawn is dotted with beautiful purple blooms.

I decided to make some violet syrup this year. The syrup is a good source of vitamin C and is supposed to be a great cough syrup. It’s also said to help you fall asleep without making your drowsy. Since I can be a bit of an insomniac, this sounds wonderful to me!

Making violet syrup is no small feat, you need 8 oz of violet blossoms. At first this may not seem like a lot, until you start picking. I harvested a pint of blossoms and they weighed in at 1.2 oz. Out came the big half gallon mason jar and I spent some time sitting on the front lawn harvesting those tiny purple beauties. I’m sure my neighbors were wondering what in the world I was doing. It was quite relaxing though, I enjoyed myself. Mr Chiots saw me through the window and had to come out and get a photo.

It took me about an hour to pick a half gallon jar full of blossoms, which happened to weigh 8 oz. If you have kids this would be a great project for them to do, they would not doubt love this chore!

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the blossoms and use a wooden spoon to slightly mash the blossoms down into the water. If you need a little more water to cover the blossoms add just enough to cover. I added an extra half cup of water. Let sit overnight on the counter. In the morning, strain out the blossoms and you’ll be left with a beautiful violet liquid. I bet this would be a wonderful natural dye for Easter eggs, or fabric.

Pour the violet water into a saucepan and add 2 cups of honey. Simmer for about 30 minutes until slightly thick and syrupy (keep an eye on it in the beginning as it can foam up and boil over). Pour into jar and store in the fridge. You can waterbath can this for 10 minutes if you’d like to make larger batches. I ended up with about two and a half cups of syrup.

I’m looking forward to using this syrup throughout the year. It tastes like honey and smells of violets and is a beautiful lavender color. It would taste wonderful on ice cream or in tea and as far as cough syrup goes, it’s so much better than the mediciny stuff you’d buy at the store.

Do you make any of your own herbal syrups?

Beautiful Wild Violets

May 2nd, 2011

This time of year our lawn is flush with tiny purple blossoms from all the wild violets. They are quite beautiful, definitely a great reason to not spray!


Wild violets aren’t just a pretty face either, they’re quite healthy. Violets are loaded with vitamin C and all kinds of other goodness (read a great article about them here). You can eat the flowers, leaves and the tubers (although tubers should be eaten in moderation).

There are all kinds of things you can do with them, candy them, make jelly, tincture them, make syrup. We mostly pick them and add them to our salads. I’ll be making violet syrup this year as well (recipe and info on that tomorrow). I may also try to make a tincture to use in my ears. I have tinnitus on occasion and it’s supposed to be helpful for that, I’ll let you know if it works.

In addition to violets, we’ve been picking dandelions and garlic mustard blooms for our salads. Spring is truly a beautiful time, both in the garden and on my plate!

Do you have wild violets in your garden? Do you harvest any flowers to eat?

Local Unpasteurized Cider

November 19th, 2009

Fresh cider is one of my favorite fall treats. We buy gallons and gallons of it throughout the months of Sept-Nov. When we first moved here 8 years ago we found a great source of unpasteurized cider from a small local mill. I’ve tried cider from many of the other small local orchards, but the Mapleton Cider Mill has the best product!
mapleton_cider_mill_sign
One of the things I like about this cider is that it’s unpasteurized, so it hasn’t been heated to death or treated with ultraviolet light to kill all the goodness inside. How does this affect the flavor? Well, I can’t really explain besides saying it tastes like cider and not apple juice like much of the stuff you buy in the stores.
unpasteurized_cider_label
4-5 years ago they tried to make selling unpasteurized cider illegal in Ohio. I guess there are a lot of people like us that prefer the taste because there was an uproar. Our mill sold it “under the table” that year, they didn’t put up their usually signs by the road. It didn’t hurt their business because they were always low on cider when I stopped by.
cider_for_sale_sign
The state finally decided to let people sell it as long as they put a warning on the cider. This doesn’t deter us, we drink gallons and gallons of cider this time of year.
cider_warning_label
My favorite way to drink cider, mulled of course; with cinnamon, cranberries and other warming spices. I also boil some down to make cider syrup, which we enjoy over pancakes and drizzled over apple pie. I add some to my apple butter as well and I often make mulled cider jelly to give away. I also use several gallons to make apple cider vinegar and this year hard cider.
buying_cider
Another thing I love about small local places is that they use the honor system. We stop by, grab a few gallons and put our money in the box. You just can’t beat living locally!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cider? Do you have any special cider recipes you’d like to share?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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