make your own: violet syrup.

April 23, 2019
make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves

Recommended: A spring afternoon spent playing with flowers. My kids are on spring break this week and we’re spending a few extra days at my parents’ house, half working and half playing and mostly getting all the way muddy.

My mom and dad’s yard is an early spring dream this week: all daffodils and violets edged with a bright yellow forsythia hedge. The patches of wild violets are mostly of the white variety, streaked with painterly purple, but there are are—or at any rate, there were—a handful of patches populated with dark purple flowers, perfect for experimenting with violet confections.

make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves

I’d never made a violet syrup before, but what better way to please a four year-old enamored with the color than to make a bright purple syrup for her tasting pleasure? Together, Faye and I harvested as many deep purple violets as we could, popping the cheery heads off of their stems like two not-so-gentle giants.

Most recipes for violet syrup call for a quantity of violets that surpasses what my parents have in their yard, so here’s some encouragement to go ahead and give the recipe a try even if you don’t find yourself in the middle of a violet metropolis. I found the recipe to be forgiving and amenable to changes and fairy-sized portions. Here’s what I did; feel free to adjust according to the size of your patch and ambition.

make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves

Materials

+ ~1 cup of packed dark purple violets, stems and green base removed.

+ Water, enough to just cover the violet petals

+ Lemon juice, just a few drops

+ ~ 1/2 cup sugar

+ Sieve

+ Cheesecloth or other clean fabric

+ Small sauce pan and heat-safe bowl, or a double-boiler if you have it.

+ Clean bottle or jar for storing the syrup

make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
Violet petals, stems and small green cap removed.

Directions

+ Lightly rinse violet petals in sieve under cool water to be sure they’re free of bugs and insects.

+ Place cleaned petals into a non-reactive glass or stainless steel jar or bowl. Pour boiling water on top of the petals until just barely covered. Use a wooden spoon (or your fingers once the water is cool enough) to gently agitate mixture and press the petals. Let sit covered for as little as a few hours, or overnight.

+ Once steeped, the water will appear dark blue. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice and watch it turn a bright, very nearly luminescent purple.

+ Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the liquid into a bowl or pot. Squeeze the cheesecloth to get every last drop out of the flowers.

+ Add ~1/2 cup sugar (liquid to sugar ratio should be about 2:1) and stir. Place the bowl or sauce pan over a pan with boiling water to gently melt the sugar.

+ While still warm, add the the syrup to a clean glass jar or bottle. Cover and keep refrigerated until all used up in the making of sparkling seltzers, drizzled over cakes, stirred into frosting, added to cocktails or otherwise generally enjoyed.

make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
Violet petals, prepared.

Notes

+ Always be sure that you’re harvesting edible flowers away from places that have not been treated with pesticides and/or that have also been recently treated to gifts from neighborhood dogs.

+ Recipes for violet syrup are abundant online. Some have you steep in cold water. Some have you cook petals over the stove. Some, like I have, used boiling water to kickstart the infusion process. If you’ve tried a different process that you’ve like, feel free to share in the comments!

+ I can’t say that the resulting syrup is the most floral or fragrant that I’ve made. It’s definitely purple, but it mostly lacks the signature violet taste of, say, the violet pastilles I loved as a kid. This is likely violet variety specific, and probably has to do with the delicate nature of the scent to begin with. Enjoy the process, and the thrill of drinking flowers, but don’t, perhaps, expect an extremely floral syrup if your flowers are not very fragrant themselves.

make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
I steeped my violet petals in a glass jar.
make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
Before adding lemon juice, the petal-soaked liquid is a beautiful blue color.
make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
A few drops of lemon juice changes it to a bright purple.
make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
I used cheesecloth in a colander for straining the violet-infused water, but any clean loose-weave cotton cloth would work just as well.
make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves
I heated my strained liquid and sugar over another pot of boiling water to melt the sugar without over heating the syrup.
make your own violet syrup | reading my tea leaves

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6 Comments

  • Reply Jessica April 23, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    I’ve been enjoying violet lemonade all week with my syrup! Like yours….not very violet in flavor, but it sure is pretty to look at.

  • Reply Shelly April 23, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Beautiful. Hope your spring break is lovely.

  • Reply MissEm April 23, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Please also encourage sustainable harvesting! We’ve unfortunately inherited an “as much as I can get” mentality from our forebears and aren’t as attuned to taking a little and leaving a lot so that wild systems continue unabated. Those of us new to wild harvesting are often tempted to take every last flower, but a good rule of thumb is to take only one violet for every 10-15. They aren’t just for us to enjoy, but belong to a whole system. That said, my daughter and I enjoy making violet syrup every May to enjoy in lemonade on her birthday. She knows her birthday is near when the violets show up!

    1
    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 23, 2019 at 2:04 pm

      yes, of course!

  • Reply Chelsea April 23, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    So pretty! I’ve bought violet syrup and made candied violets but never made syrup myself. My yard is packed with them this time of year!

  • Reply steph April 29, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    faye must be loving that hue! i just made another batch of chapstick with old repurposed tubes and am hoping to experiment with beets for tinted balm – anyone know of any tips or resources? chapstick recipe this way: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2019/04/tps-make-your-own-chapstick.html

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