Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hurry Spring! Bring Your Violets

Roses are red
Violets are blue... 

Some gardeners refer to them as lawn invaders. I refer to them as secretive little petals with a magical fragrance. 



Sometimes I think I must have lived another lifetime as I am often drawn to many things from the Victorian or Belle Epoque eras  - especially when it comes to the artwork and furnishings. This may explain my love of violets, as the Victorians had an extreme passion for this little purple flower.  They wore the fragrance of violets and eventually every fragrance house was offering their own line of violet perfume. 


Violet fragrance from France among my perfume bottle collection
The Victorians even ate and drank the little flower. Crème de violette was a popular drink, and often served with a touch of vermouth or alone as a cordial. While crème de violette was popular drink in France, it was unavailable for decades in the United States until about ten years ago. Knowing the history of this liquor and the obscurity of it, I couldn't wait to get a bottle of the Giffard Crème de Violette when I first laid my eyes on it.  There are now other brands to choose from, but whatever brand you happen to come upon, give it a try. Just a couple of drops in a glass of Champagne is so luxurious. What a treat. 
From my liquor collection 

Candied violets were placed on top of cakes, and tucked inside of chocolate creams. Making candied violets at home is easy as can be. All you need is some fine granulated white sugar and an egg. Make sure the violets are pesticide free. 

Rinse the violets lightly, shake off excess water and spread the violets on paper towels or an absorbent dish towel to dry. Separate the white from the egg yolk. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Use a very new and clean artist's paint brush and paint the frothy egg white onto each violet - be sure to cover every petal. Then evenly sprinkle sugar over each petal - shaking off excess. Place the sugared flowers onto wax or parchment paper and allow to dry overnight on a (pansies and rose petals may also be sugared). 



When preparing cupcakes with the adorned violets, be sure and add a hint of c
rème de violette to the frosting - or even a hint to the batter. And don't just stop with decorating pastry with these pretty little flowers, violets and their leaves are edible with the leaves having a high level of vitamins A and C. The flowers and leaves can be tossed into salads, and the flowers can be made into jellies and syrups.


During the Victorian era, dainty nosegays of violets were sold on street corners, and even men would tuck the tiny petaled purple flower on their hat brims and lapels. At the time flower-pressing was a popular hobby for the women of the Victorian era. After a leisurely walk in the country and through the woods where violets would flourish in the spring, many a little violet would find its way pressed into a scrapbook. I have found that violets and violas are the perfect flower to dry, as Vintage Posies: How to Dry Flowers




Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow." - Robert Henry Newell 



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