In early spring wild violets come alive in the forest floor and my kids and I spend hours outside picking these lovely, edible flowers in hopes of creating something delicious in the kitchen. We experimented with candied flowers using our wild violets and still had quite a few left so we made wild violet syrup and violet lemonade. Foraging for violets is very simple and they are an easy flower for kids to recognize as they learn to identify plants. The violet flowers are pH sensitive and will change colors from blue to pink when added to the lemonade, which makes for a fun science learning opportunity for kids!
Also, these cute little flowers pack a nutritional punch and are just one of the many wild edibles that also have medicinal properties. According to The Herbal Academy, violets have multiple medicinal uses and are very high in vitamins and minerals. They compared their vitamin C content to that of an orange and their leaves had twice the amount of vitamin A content compared to spinach leaves! Who knew these sweet violets had so much to offer?!
Foraging Wild Violets
After a long winter, wild violet season is a welcome sight and a great excuse to get outside and begin your foraging adventures. If this is your first time foraging for violets you will want to look in shady places that you know have not been sprayed by any pesticides and chemicals. A lot of times you can find violets growing as a weed in your yard!
There are many types of violet species and all of them have edible leaves and flowers. (Safety note: African Violets are a completely different houseplant that is not a type of violet and is not edible.). Common blue violets (which are actually purple) are what you will most likely find in your search, although violets come in many colors including light purple, yellow, and white. We found some yellow flowers while we were looking, but wanted to use the purple flowers to get the beautiful purple color in our syrup.
When searching you will want to look for their heart-shaped leaves and bright purple blooms that have 5 petals. My daughters had a lot of fun searching for the purple flowers and for weeks after they would get so excited any time they found one on our walks or bike rides. They would excitedly bring the flowers to me asking to make candied flowers and pink lemonade.
When foraging with kids, it is easiest to forage only the violet petals, as the leaves have look a likes that are harder to distinguish and some are toxic. For this recipe you only need to use the petals anyway!
Making Homemade Violet Syrup
- Gather a mason jar full of fresh violets, gently rinse to remove any dirt or bugs. You will want to have at least one cup of violets.
- Remove the stem and green part of the flower, called the calyx, until only the purple flower petals are remaining. Add your petals to a glass jar.
- Boil 1 cup of water. Let it cool down for a few minutes and then add the hot water to your flowers.
- Let the violet infusion sit overnight at room temperature.
- The next day strain the liquid from the flowers using a fine-mesh strainer. Now the violet water is also known as violet tea.
- Add your one cup of violet tea with one cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat on very low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Add a few drops of lemon juice to alter the color of your syrup. Just do one drop of lemon juice at a time and the acidity will cause the color to change from blue, to purple, to pink.
- Transfer to a clean glass bottle and store in the refrigerator for future use up to 6 months.
Syrup before and after adding the lemon juice
Tips for Making Violet Syrup
- The green part holding the flower together is called a calyx. It can have a bitter or grassy flavor, so while it takes some time, the syrup will taste better with all of it removed.
- If you have hard tap water it may alter the color of your initial violet tea and make it a more muddy green or emerald color. Which is what I experienced with my syrup. To get the purest color you can use distilled water. Either way it will be a beautiful syrup.
- When you boil the water let it cool for a few minutes before adding the flowers, otherwise you risk the petals losing their color.
- The color of your sugar can change the color of the syrup as well. Pure white sugar will give you the clearest color.
- When simmering the sugar and flowers, make sure to use a very low heat. Once again, if heated too much the color can get lost.
- Violets are sensitive to the pH balance, so adding something acidic like lemon juice causes a chemical reaction where the syrup will turn to purple and then pink. If you add the syrup to something alkaline, like baking soda water, the water will turn green!
Wild Violet Color-Changing Lemonade Recipe
- Squeeze one cup of lemon juice into a pitcher.
- Add four cups of cold water.
- Add 1 cup of violet simple syrup and watch the color change from yellow to a beautiful pink.
There are lots of fun ways to use the simple syrup! It is a great way to add a beautiful color and mild floral flavor to ice creams, sparkling water, frosting and so much more. Making this pink lemonade was the first thing my kids wanted to try and while the flavor is very mild, the whole process was a delight and a wonderful way to welcome in spring 🙂
- One cup fresh violet flowers
- Five cups water (separated)
- One cup sugar
- One cup lemon juice (plus a few drops for the syrup)
- Gather 1 cup of edible, purple violet flowers. Gently rinse. Remove stems and calyx until only petals are remaining.
- Boil one cup of water . Let cool for a few minutes. Add to your flowers. Let violet infusion sit for 4-24 hrs until color has infused into the water.
- Strain liquid from flowers and add to a small saucepan. Add one cup sugar and heat on the lowest heat possible until sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat.
- Optional - add lemon juice to alter the color of the syrup. Use one drop at a time until you reach desired color.
- Transfer to clean glass jar and store up to 3 months in the refrigerator.
Wild Violet Lemonade Recipe
- Add one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice into your pitcher.
- Pour four cups of cold water into pitcher.
- Add one cup of violet simple syrup and watch the color change!
- The calyx holds the petals together and can have a grassy/earthy taste. While it's not essential to remove, the flavor will be a bit better if you take it off.
- When simmering the sugar and flowers use very low heat so the color doesn't get lost.
- You may use honey in place of cane sugar as your sweetener, although it will change the color of your syrup to be a muddier color.
- If you want to save some violet syrup, you can use 1/2 C violet syrup with 1/2 C regular simple syrup or honey.
- Optional garnishes are mint sprigs, lemon slices, or candied flowers
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 18mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 0gSugar: 34gProtein: 0g