Monday, April 25, 2011
Spring seemed to dawdle about this year. A very chilly March and an equally rainy April made it seem like the warmth and fragrance of spring would never get here. And then I saw them. My wild violets were blooming. Spring was really here!
When I see those dainty little purple flowers erupting all over my yard, I know that warm weather and sunny days are on their way. And the moment that sunshine appears - I'm out crawling around on the ground picking as many flowers as I can. Because these harbingers of spring don't last very long, but while they do I'll be picking them!
Both the leaf and the pretty purple flowers have health benefits including being antisepticc, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. They contain beta-carotene, vitamin C and are musilagenic. They've been used for a myriad of reasons, from acne to mastitis, coughs to urinary tract infections. Plus, it makes you happy just to look at it.
Violets are also considered a symbol of innocence and modesty. Crowns of violets were used by the ancient Greeks to promote sleep and serenity. It's also the state flower of New Jersey!
You may find it difficult to catch the light and lovely fragrance of a violet. They contain a chemical that actual blocks the scent after that first whiff.
I use violets to make pretty purplish blue jelly which has a lightly sweet flavor. I also like to dry violet flowers and include them in powders or save them for tea. Fresh violet leaves and flowers are used in spring salads.
Try making a violet vinegar by collecting several cups of the blossoms and putting them into a large glass jar. Cover with a light white wine vinegar - like rice wine vinegar. Let this steep for several weeks. The longer you can let it sit, the better. After at least 3 weeks, you can start using the vinegar. Strain if you'd like, or use with the flowers. This is very nice on salad or as part of a marinade.
Now that spring is really here, I'm sure it will zip by in a flash. But while it's here - I'll be picking my violets!