Sweet violets , hearts in the undergrowth

Violets are a pretty little plant and to me stand out like something quite different within the undergrowth almost like it calls you to its presence ,
I’ve collected this plant a lot and a traveler friend of mine refers to it as heart of the land which I quite like obviously a name reminiscent of its heart shaped leaves .

Many foragers know the use for the flowers as candied decoration but for many it doesn’t fit within there foraging idea .
The leaves of the plant are edible but in all honesty tasteless when young and too rough when older to be enjoyable , on the other hand the country gardener loves the flowers as decoration when candied and the reason is obvious if you have ever tasted them there is no better taste of spring and it’s a taste quite unique to this plant .
I am going to share two uses of this plant that I feel are a great use of what this plant has to offer .
My first is a natural cough remedy using the leaves of the violet there are two documented ways to extract the essence from the leaves the first is viable if you have violets at hand and this is to take a glass jar and fill it to the brim with the leaves of the plant then fill the jar with boiling water and allow to seap , once the water has cooled seal the jar and allow to sit for twelve hours until the water has become a pea green colour , then sieve the leaves away and drink as a tea 2-3 times a day whilst cough is present . This takes a good supply of leaves as you will be continually picking for the duration of the cough .
So the next idea is generally much more appropriate is in fact to make a cough syrup you only need one other ingredient and that is raw honey

If you don’t already use one find a local bee keeper for your honey in the uk search BBKA ‘British bee keepers association ‘ they will point you in the right direction and for other country’s a simple web search for local producers will give you direction

I use the same method of soaking the leaves for twelve hours I then add one part liquid to two parts honey and heat both together constantly mixing making sure to keep under 110 degrees f as any higher you will start to lose the benefits of both the honey and violets mix for approximately fifteen minutes and then bottle and allow to cool and kept in a cool dark place it will be ok for use for a good six months .
One warning is that it is also a slight laxative so you may experience these effects .

My next use for the violet is a basic flower syrup which has the most amazing taste on pancakes and mixed into a icecream mix is out of this world ,
So for this you require ,

One part violet flowers ( with any green part removed )

One part water

Two parts caster sugar

And a pre sterilised container

Making this is really easy a quick simply take your flowers and place them into a pestle and mortar and crush them ( you may find adding a small amount of water helps ) once they are pulped add them to the water in a non reactive pan cover with a cloth and leave to rest over night then when you are happy they have paired nicely place on the heat and bring to the simmer add the sugar and allow the sugar to liquefy leave at a rolling boil for fifteen minutes and allow to cool slightly and pass through a muslin bag to remove any flower remaining and then bottle or jar in a pre sterilised pot and allow to cool .

Violet flowers pound for pound contain three times the amount of vit C than oranges

.
British beekeepers association

I want to add Sweet violet has a reputation as an ‘anti-cancer’ herb. It is used internally for breast cancer, stomach cancer and lung cancer but this is because of the role it plays as part of the holistic support of patients with these forms of cancer and please remember medically violets are listed as an alternative treatment not a cure please seek professional advice before using any natural remedy .20140626-105436-39276262.jpg

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