13.3.10

The Sweet Violet

The Sweet Violet, one of the first edible flowers available to the gourmet forager!! The Sweet Violet is a small creeping plant that can be found in woodland, hedgerows in fact most places where there is a little shade, the Sweet Violet is very common in shaded areas of gardens too making accessible to even the most domesticated of Wild Food enthusiast! The broad leaves are rounded and downy and the flowers Violet to Blue even White all of which have an extraordinary scent.

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Although the leaves are edible, It’s the flowers that I usually want from this more than common plant!!

The Sweet Violet flowers from March to May and the fragrance of the flowers is very strong, and they have been used in the making of perfume as far many thousands of years and folklore denotes that you can only smell violet flowers once, but the fragrance is strangely short-lived. One of the chemicals, ionine, has a mildly anaesthetising affect on the smell receptors so we have to find other ways to enjoy this pretty little plant.

Previous uses for the Sweet Violet, especially in medieval Britain, include being used as a deodorant. In history it has also been used as a treatment for cancer and whooping cough. The Sweet Violet also contains salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin, and is therefore effective in the treatment of headaches and migraines. The plant is also meant to induce endorphins (hormones that activate the pleasure centres in the brain) and is regularly used in aromatherapy.

OK, I don’t need to sell it anymore (not that I would ever do that to you anyway!!), but here is the most important uses… Eating! The Sweet Violets flavour lends itself to both sweet and savoury. Documented in a 14th century for Sweet Violet Rice Pudding through to the Victorian times when it was used as a garnish for Lamb. The flowers and leaves can also be used in salads and included in dressings and sweet sauces.

The Sweet Violet is a small and delicate plant, and one of the first flowering spring edibles. There are countless recipes, both sweet and savoury that you can use both the leaf and flower within so stay posted and I will provide you with Sweet Violet Recipes.

..or return to Wild Food Home.

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