Vibrant Violet

Within the space of a mere two days or so, the trees have suddenly exploded with fresh buds, green leaves unfurling right before your eyes. As if waiting for the month of May, it finally feels as though we’ve turned the corner, and we can at last put the bone-chilling torture of winter behind us. Fresh produce is arriving at the markets once more, making every trip a joyful reunion with old friends. Each day brings something new to get excited about, be it the changing of a restaurant’s menu to reflect the season, or the delight of taking a stroll in the fading sunlight at 7:30 pm, without needing to bundle up. Just yesterday, as the coffee began percolating and I bumbled about with sleep still in my eyes, I looked out the kitchen window and discovered something absolutely wonderful out in the yard; Violets.

Tiny little flowers in varying hues of purple, blue, and white, they speckled the lawn so thoroughly that it appeared as if confetti had been strewn about after a party. You could scarcely take a step without the danger of squashing a handful… But this abundance is nothing to take advantage of. Blink once, and every last little blossom will vanish, as if they never existed to begin with. With a window of availability spanning barely a week, it’s no wonder that these edible flowers are so highly prized, not to mention expensive, just about any time of the year.

Bare feet racing across the damp, dew-covered grass, I quickly began gathering flowers, plucking as many as I could carry. No way would these violet beauties pass me by this time! But what to do with them, besides just garnish a plate?

Well, how about making violet extract, for starters? Building upon the same idea as making vanilla extract, this is an experiment in progress. Filling a few jars with washed (and 100% pesticide-free!) violets and topping them off with vodka, only time will tell if this method works for more than just vanilla beans. Here’s hoping that in 1 – 3 weeks, this rare flower essence will make a cameo in some fantastic dessert! Of course, I’ll keep you posted on the results, but I didn’t want to wait until all the violets were gone before sharing. If you happen to have these lovely little blossoms in your yard, get out there and start picking, while you still can!

52 thoughts on “Vibrant Violet

  1. What a great idea! Can’t wait to see the final results of that one. I don’t have a lot of violets in my garden apart from a few that came from the neighbours I think. Instead my garden is absolutely filled with forget-me-nots. They seed wildly so I seem to have more of them every year. I love the spring season where you have so many pretty things popping up!

  2. *thanks for the sweet comment!
    Wow those violets are so beautiful- i am in love with spring flowers, if only I had a garden… extracts are so fun, I love how just a few drops can completely enhance and improve the flavor of any baked good, dessert or even meal! (beans and rice with a lemon lime twist anyone?) it’s been an absolute pleasure knowing you, miss Hannah- thanks for everything you’ve taught me :-)

  3. I’ve never heard of anything like this. Violet extract? The flowers look so gorgeous in that jar, I’ll have to try this out. I can’t wait to hear more updates. Thanks Hannah!

  4. the only thing better than this idea is your photos. so, so gorgeous. hope the extract works! i bet it would be amazing in some really rich, dark chocolate brownies.

  5. Wow, the colours look utterly amazing! How beautiful to be able to wakeup to a sight like that outside.

  6. Your method is the basic method for making ANY tincture or extract, from vanilla to violet to medicinal herbs.

  7. Wow, those violets are just gorgeous!! I can’t wait to see how your violet extract experiment turns out. Here’s hoping we see lots of violet extract in your future recipes.

  8. I agreed with you these delicate tiny blossoms are truly captivating… not because I love the color but they are so pretty not to miss them. At times, when I passed by such fields, I felt sleeping amongst them yet scared injuring these precious blooms. I’m glad I stumbled upon your website when I was looking for more information on edible flowers.

    You created a wonderful blog and I’m looking forward to your experiments with anticipation!


  9. I love violets! But I’d be so sad to pick them all and not have them covering the yard anymore!! Can’t wait to see what you come up with! :D

  10. The violets are so pretty, especially all squished together in the jar! Hope your experiment turns out.

  11. Beautiful pictures! My vanilla extract is still not ready…been almost a year. Violette extract is a great idea! Keep us posted.

  12. Still waiting to hear how it all came out. I’ve done many such experiments with nasturtiums, old roses, lavender, basil, etc., all with varying degrees of success. It seems as though these home made extracts do not have an exceptionally long shelf life. Their freshness and vibrancy do indeed fade quite rapidly. So, I would suggest making them in very small batches and using them quickly. I would like to add that vodka is not always the best medium as an extracting agent. It can be too wimpy for some flowers, quite frankly. In many instances, I’ve found that brandy contributes a full-bodied presence that vodka could never match. This is what I’ve observed after 20 years of experimenting. It’s all about trial and error. Do keep experimenting and sharing your results with the rest of us. Have a lovely day in the garden! Sharon

  13. So how’d this turn out? Today I walked outside around our new house and when I saw tiny violets, I remembered this post.

  14. I also want to know how the violet extract/essence turned out as I so want to make some French violet and white chocolat macaroons and prefer to not have to buy extracts. While I have used vodka sometimes I usually use brandy.

    1. Sadly, the extract did not turn out at all… I didn’t blog about it a second time because I was so disappointed in the results. After about 8 months, it still simply smelled and tasted like vodka, nothing else. Fearing that the flowers would begin to rot, I had no choice but it just toss the experiment. Ah well, perhaps there’s a reason why violet extract is so hard to come by…

  15. I’m so sorry, but not at all surprised. The fragrance of violets is fleeting and elusive even under the best of circumstances. It would be no exaggeration to say that it practically takes rocket science to extract the shy, volatile oils from their delicate petals. Indeed, there is a reason why the scent and flavor of violets is so hard to come by and so costly to procure. However, I have found that making candied violets is an excellent way to capture and enjoy their lovely color and flavor.

  16. I make extracts all the time and use brandy because vodka tends to dilute some flowers. Am going to pick some new buds from my violets which are all organic no pesticide grown, and make two small batches.

    One with half open whole blooms which tend to have the peak oil, and one where I will use a mortar to smush the blooms a bit to release more of the oils.

    I do know that putting the extract in a cool DARK area to set, has helped me make better extracts. Will see if this also makes a difference.

      1. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as expected… Many months later, I still had little more than vodka with shriveled flowers in it. I do understand why violet extract is so expensive now though- It’s really impossible to make yourself, and takes a heck of a lot of flowers to get any discernible flavor!

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