It is sad that so many of the old traditional ways of preserving flowers and the individual petals of flowers for culinary use in the kitchen are now almost forgotten.
Sweetest among flowers and the more loveable because of their unassuming character and entire absence of pomposity Violets known by a few names, such as Sweet violets, Devon violets and English violets, these dear wee plants have been grown for over 2000 years and were the symbol of ancient Athens. Violet flowers were frequently used in cookery in medieval times and also scattered about in rooms to mask unpleasant odours.
Violets have long been found in gardens, and often picked to put into bud vase to bring their delicious scent indoors.
Above | Viola Freckles
In Victorian times, violet flowers where worn in buttonholes and used in brides posies. Their heavily scented flowers as well as their leaves are used to make a sought-after violet perfume - did you know it actually takes one tonne of leaves to make one kg of oil so a low yield from a large amount of leaves!
Image above from our Violets & Lilacs tea-towel which you can find here
The process of crystallising flowers was very popular in Victorian times and still today they make beautiful finishing flourishes for baking such as cupcakes and and desserts. Violets and chocolate are a match made in heaven! It is very simple to crystallise flowers and we share with you below the process of doing this, it will take you less than ten minutes to do this and add an elegant touch to your baked goodies.
Above | Our beautiful hard to find peach coloured Viola odorata Irish Elegance
The process of crystallisation can be used with many edible flowers, but violets, primroses and nasturtiums and borage flowers are particularly suited to doing this. Pansies are also great but avoid using the yellow coloured ones.
- Harvest your flowers on a sunny day when they are fully open and as dry as possible, remove their stems
- Beat an egg white and pour into a saucer and make up another saucer with caster sugar.
- Dip the flowers into the egg white, tweezers are really helpful when doing this. Once coated with egg white, dip the flowers into the caster sugar, ensuring that you dust the flower completely.
- Shake very carefully to remove any excess sugar and then lay the flowers on a sheet of baking paper.
- Place in a warm, dry place to dry for around 24 to 48 hours.
- When fully dry, store the crystallised flowers in an airtight container and they should keep for some time.
Picture above from my vintage book : Violets for Garden and market