With warm, beautiful summer upon us, all kinds of seasonal confections--from strawberry shortcake to ice pops--are shared at garden parties and picnics. A simple but elegant adornment for honey cakes and vanilla ice cream, sugared violets make summer indulgences even more delightful. Sugaring violets is an easy project, and especially enjoyable with friends or little ones.
North American wild violets bloom in late spring through early summer. While European sweet violets have the loveliest scent, most of us will easily find common wild violets in meadows and woodlands. Remember, as with any wild plant or flower, you need to make sure that you don't confuse wild violets with other blue/purple flowers that are poisonous like delphinium belladonna or monkshood--and be sure the flowers you gather haven't been sprayed by any poisonous substances or affected by run-off, like pesticides. In foraging, be mindful to harvest only what you need (a rule of thumb is no more than one-third of the plant) and leave enough for it to continue thriving. Violets are best gathered first thing in the morning after the dew has dried.
How to Sugar a Violet
Violets can also be 'candied' but sugaring violets makes them look frosted, which is beautiful and will preserve them for a least a few months.
Violets: More than Just an Edible Flower
Wild violets, not to be confused with African violets (the lovely and finicky indoor houseplant that is not actually a violet at all), are medicinal and loaded with vitamins A and lots of vitamin C. Their leaves are also edible, and better when young and tender, but can be a mild laxative, so don't indulge in too many. All varieties of true violets are edible, although take some caution with yellow violets, which may have stronger laxative and gastro-intestinal properties. Violets can be used to make a refreshing tea when steeped, and are said to have expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties.