Each week during my morning run, I watch the green sprouts lush out a little further. How fantastic to watch the cycle of life from start to finish every year. This year they are all new plants! New to me anyway. There are some things that I have been watching sprout and try as I may, I just cannot figure out what they are! I will just have to wait until it blooms.
Walking around my house I have found small collections of edibles. Each week I identify something else as it breaks the earth. The first thing I found was a small patch of fiddleheads, then of course, the dandelions. Growing in the front lawn along with dandelions are patches of heart shaped leaves. Just pretty, yet familiar, leaves. Then they began to bloom, they are violets! White and violet violets! The white ones in my yard are fuller with broader petals. The purple ones are more dainty and have less of a showing.
Wild violets have a somewhat elusive scent, but have a wonderfully sweet taste. The leaves are rich in vitamins A & C and make a great substitute for spinach. Eat young heart-shaped leaves raw in salads and larger mature leaves as cooked greens. The rhizomes can also be eaten as a starchy vegetable. The modest blooms can be eaten raw, added to salads, desserts, and fruit dishes. Violets can also be steeped for violet water or tea or candied. The sugared violets make tasty sweets on their own or are a great addition as cake decorations. This is how I candied my violets:
Gently rinse violets and allow to dry, or pat dry gently.
While the flowers are drying, set up the work space.
You will need:
- 1 small paintbrush
- wax paper
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1/2c super fine sugar, flavored sugars are great for this, try using rose, lemon, or lavender sugar. S.F. sugar can be approximated by running table sugar through the food processor.
- toothpick, helpful if petals get stuck together
Begin by painting the egg white onto the violet. Be sure to cover every bit! Sprinkle sugar over blossom. Place onto wax paper and allow to dry overnight. The violets might need some re-touching, snip the stem and repeat the egg wash, sugaring, and drying on the stem side.
Do not be tempted to dip the entire flower into the egg wash, it will stick together and you will have something that does not remotely resemble a violet.
Fresh picked violets absolutely work the best. They are easy to work with and will hold up to the painting and sugaring. Flowers picked the day before will work but are much softer and harder to work with.
Sugared violets can be stored in an airtight container for a month or more. Be sure to separate layers with wax paper.