There have been quit a few articles out on harvesting and using violets on herbal blogs last month, but in our region the violets have only been out about 2 weeks. I am a little late encouraging you to find your patch of violets and use them as I am out of state helping and waiting for my two new grandbabies to arrive. Celebrations!
I absolutely love violets, one of those early flowers to peek out as we impatiently wait for summer and flowers to arrive. You can find violets, or their sister flowers pansies (violas) in your lawns, in woodlands, in the cracks of your sidewalks, just about anywhere. They are hardy and spread easily and quickly.
There are 550 species of violets. The violet with the best aroma is the sweet violet, common in Europe that is a blue color. Wild violets often seen in our valley are blue to purple and in the same family is the pansy, which is a deep blue or violet that tapers into a white and yellow center. Each are a happy flower, I just smile looking at them and always take a moment to bend down and examine each one, and yes, maybe have a little conversation with them. They all readily grow in this area, poking their heads up each spring no matter how severe the winter and the last to put their happy flowers to bed for the winter.
Violets offer wonderful values to our health. They are high in vitamin C and A. They contain twice the Vitamin C as the same weight of an orange and more than twice the Vitamin A gram for gram of spinach. Violet leaves and flowers are cooling and moistening making them great to use for coughs and colds. Other roles violets play is as a blood cleanser, mild laxative, anti-inflammatory, mucilage, expectorant, lymphagogue and for soothing sore throats and as a poultice for hemorrhoids. They are very effective for a dry hacking cough, especially when combined with licorice and marshmallow. For such a small, almost shy flower, they sure to offer us a lot of benefits.
Pansies offer similar benefits as an expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and as a salve for eczema, acne, psoriasis, and babies cradle cap.
Violets and Pansies are gentle enough that they can be used for children as well as adults. So I have a recipe I am dying to try that I thought I would share with you. Violet Jelly. It needs a lot of flowers so you need to find several sources of violets growing. To enjoy the health benefits of the whole plant, try violet leaves and flowers in salads, sandwiches, pesto (1/2 violets and 1/2 basil), place in soups freeze into ice cubes for a lovely addition to drinks and try using as a garnish.
I found this recipe from "the nerdy farm wife" on her blog.
2-3 cups loosely packed violet blooms
juice of one large lemon
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 package Sure-Jell pectin
3 1/2 cups sugar
Step 1: Make a Violet Infusion (pour 2 1/2 cups boiling water over 2-3 cups violet flowers. It will turn a deep blue or purple).
Step 2: Strain and Add Lemon Juice after violets have infused for several hours. The blue will quickly turn from blue to purple.
Step 3: Make the Jelly.
Mix the pectin with the flower/lemon juice mixture, and stir the mixture in a heavy duty saucepan over high heat until it reaches a heavy boil.
Boil for one minute then add the sugar all at once.
Keep stirring, return to a boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and quickly ladle into prepared jars.
You can either store the jelly in the refrigerator for two weeks or process in a water bath for 5 minutes.
So I am trying to make this when I get back from helping my kids have their babies, in fact it looks like the first one is on it's way right now. Enjoy your violets and smile while you eat them.