Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Violet Syrup

Green, Magenta and Lavender Violet Syrup
Violet syrup is historically one of the most common ways to prepare violets. It has been used to ease coughs, congestion and sore throats. The preparation of violet syrup has not changed over the centuries. To make your own violet syrup, you will want to pick the deepest colored violets you can find. They are easy to harvest by simply sliding your fingers up the stem and plucking off the head. Surprisingly, you will need to pick about twice as many violets as you expect to in order to obtain dark colored syrup. Many North American varieties of violets do not have a fragrance, this is ok. They syrup is lovely to look at, and is refreshing to taste.

An interesting fact to take note of, violet syrup will turn magenta if you add an acid to it (lime or lemon juice), and it will turn green if you add an alkaline to it (rose water). Violets were used to test alkaline or acid before the invention of litmus paper. Naturally, I also had to play with the colors. Above you will note the olive green color of the syrup flavored with rose water, the magenta color of the syrup flavored with lemon juice on the left, and the natural lavender color of the syrup on the right.

Syrup of Violets

Take a ratl of fresh violet flowers, and cover them with three ratls of boiling water, and boil until their substance comes out; then take the clean part of it and mix it with four ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup. Drink an ûqiya and a half of this with three of hot water. Its benefits are in the fever of jaundice, it cuts thirst and lightens the body gently, and benefits in dry coughs, but it weakens the stomach.

An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century

To Make Syrupe of Violets.

Take your Violets, and pick the flowers, and weigh them, and then put them into a quart of water, and steepe them vpon hot embers, vntill such time as the flowers be turned white, and the water as blew as any violet, then take to that quart of infusion and take foure pound of clarified Suger, & boyle it till it come to a syrupe, scumming them and boyling them vpon a gentle fire, least it turne his colour, and being boyled, put the Syrupe vp and keepe it.

A Closet for Ladies and Gentlevvomen, 1608

154. _To make Syrup of Violets._
Take Violets clipped clean from the Whites, to every Ounce of Violets take two Ounces of Water, so steep them upon Embers till the Water be as blew as a Violet, and the Violets turned white, then put in more Violets into the same Water, and again the third time, then take to every Quart of Water four Pounds of fine Sugar, and boil it to a Syrup, and keep it

for your use; thus you may also make Syrup of Roses.

The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet Stored With All Manner Of Rare Receipts For Preserving, Candying And Cookery. Very Pleasant And Beneficial To All Ingenious Persons Of The Female Sex, 1672

393. _To make_ SYRRUP OF VIOLETS.Take violets and pick them; to every pound of violets put a pint of water, when the water is just ready to boil put it to your violets, and stir them well together, let them infuse twenty four hours and strain them; to every pound of syrrup, take almost two pounds of sugar, beat the sugar very well and put it into your syrrup, stir it that the sugar may dissolve, let it stand a day or two, stirring it two or three times, then set it on the fire, let be but warm and it will be thick enough.

English Housewifery Exemplified In above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions for most Parts of Cookery, 1764

The Syrup of Sweet Violets should be made as follows: To one pound of sweet violet flowers freshly picked, add two-and-a-half pints of boiling water: infuse these for twenty-four hours in a glazed china vessel, then pour off the liquid, and strain it gently throughmuslin; afterwards add double its weight of the finest loaf sugar, and make it into a syrup, but without letting it boil.

Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, 1897

The process of making the syrup is very simple. Below is the process I used, although with a little bit of research, you will discover that there are multiple methods readily available on the internet.

2 cups tightly packed fresh violet flowers, cleaned and dried
2 cups boiling water

Place violets in a glass, bring water to a boil and pour over violets. Let sit until flowers turn white. Strain flowers from water, add equal amount of sugar (in this case 2 cups) to water, and let boil for approximately five minutes. Pour hot syrup into glass jar and cool.

~Enjoy