What a great Herb Day we had!
This past Saturday we celebrated Herb Day 2022 and featured the International Herb of the Year – Viola family plants: Sweet Violet, Heartsease and Pansies; the turnout for the event was wonderful.
We got to do two of our favourite things – share our passion for herbs and for feeding people.
We created a handout for people to take home with them and we thought it would be great to share this with you as well as some of the fun things we did.
The day started out with people sipping violet syrup spritzers as they participated in a hands-on demo of how to make candied violets.
We went on to talk about ways to make violet jelly, violet syrup & infused violet sugar and how to use them in cooking. Of course, not only do we like feeding people we also like giving things away so everyone went home with a package of our limited addition “Celebrating Spring Tea” and infused violet sugar.
In the afternoon we shared how to use sweet violets, heartsease, and pansies as medicine
Participants learned that from colds, coughs, and bronchitis to skin issues and urinary problems these plants definitely have a place in your medicine chest. (See our April 2022 newsletter for more on the medicinal uses of violet family plants).
In this demo we showed everyone how to make infused oil using violets and then how to take that oil and make healing skin salves. Again, more giveaways, this time of salves, violet jelly, infused sugar, tea, and more!
Oh and of course we fed everyone as no Tilia event is complete without food. We served our “Celebrating Spring” tea (a combination of sweet violets, rose petals and spearmint)
and had scrumptious chocolate & violet infused faery cakes and violet jelly thumbprint cookies. Total bliss!!!
We can hardly wait for next year when the Herb of the Year is Ginger. Gingerbread, ginger snaps, candied ginger, ginger ale….
Herb Day 2022 Violet Recipes
Chocolate Violet Faery Cakes
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cup violet sugar*
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream or full fat Greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Cream violet sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add 1 egg, continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add remaining eggs, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to creamed butter mixture, gently folding to mix ingredients. Batter will be fairly thick.
Lightly grease cupcake pans or two 9-inch cake pans. Divide batter between the pans (depending on which type of "cakes" you are making). Bake 15 to 20 minutes for cupcakes or 20 to 25 minutes for full size cakes. When done, top will spring back when gently pressed and toothpick inserted into the centre will come out clean. Remove from oven and let pans cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently remove cakes from pans, and cool completely on wire rack. Decorate with Violet Frosting (below) or dust with icing sugar. This recipe makes 16-18 regular sizes cupcakes or 2 - 9inch cakes
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1⁄2 cups powdered icing sugar
3 Tbsp. Violet infused simple syrup
For the icing, cream the butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, violet syrup and beat until light and creamy. If needed add more violet syrup to make frosting easily spread on cake. Spread 1/3 of the frosting in the middle of the cake and the rest on the top and sides.
*To make violet sugar put 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1 cup of edible violet flowers into a food processor and blend well. Store in a glass jar for 1 week at room temperature. Sift to remove violet pieces and store sugar in an airtight container until ready to use.
4 cup Violets, freshly picked unsprayed
2 cup boiling water
6 cup sugar
1 Lemon, juice of
2 cup water
Place violet petal in a deep bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Weigh down with a heavy dish to keep them submerged. Place the bowl in a draft-free place at room temperature for 24 hours.
Line a colander with layers of rinsed cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour violets and liquid into colander, squeezing out juice from the violets; discard the violets. Place sugar, lemon juice* and water in a saucepan and boil into a very thick syrup, near the candy stage. Add violet water and bring to a rolling boil. Boil 10 minutes or until thickened. Pour into sterile bottles. Allow to cool, then seal and refrigerate. Serve with ice water or club soda. Makes 2 litres. VARIATION: Substitute 4 cups fragrant rose petals and add 1 cinnamon stick per bottle of syrup.
4 cup purple violets
4 cup rice vinegar (or champagne or white wine vinegar)
Pack 2-pint jars tightly with the violets. Pour the vinegar (unheated) over the violets. Cover tightly and allow to stand in a sunny window for 4 or 5 days; the violets will bleach out and the vinegar become a marvelous pale lavender. Strain and put in a sterile bottle.
1 cup violet blossoms (tightly packed)
1 ½ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 ½ cup sugar
1 pkg. powdered pectin
Place violets in food processor. Add 3/4 cup of water and lemon juice. Blend to coarse paste, add sugar, blend until dissolved. In a pan, heat 3/4 cup of water, stir in pectin. Boil hard for 1 minute. Add to blender, mix for about 1 minute. Pour jam into small jars and seal. Store in freezer.
2 cup Fresh violets
2 cup Boiling water
Juice of one lemon or lime (4 tablespoons)
1 pkg. Powdered pectin
4 cup Sugar
Make an infusion with violets and water by placing your blossoms in a glass jar and covering them with boiling water. Put a lid on the jar and set aside for 24 hours. The infusion will turn a murky bluish green. Strain and discard the violets. Add the lemon juice to the violet infusion, and it transforms to a clear lavender pink. Stir in powdered pectin and bring to a boil. Add 4 cups sugar, bring to a boil again, and boil vigorously for one minute. Skim if necessary. Pour into sterile jars and seal. Makes approximately 2 ½ cups jelly.
Candied Violets Method #1
1/2 cup Water
1 cup Sugar, granulated
Almond extract, or rosewater
Fresh violets or Fresh rose petals
These are decorations for desserts. Do NOT use African violets! Make a syrup by stirring water into sugar in small saucepan. Boil until slightly thickened; stir in almond extract to taste. Let syrup cool a little. Place the violets, a few at a time into syrup. Make sure that they are completely covered. Remove from syrup and place on wax paper to dry. If syrup gets hard, reheat, adding a little more water.
Candied Violets Method #2
1 Egg white
Whip 1 egg white until it is frothy but does not stand in peaks. Gather perfect violets and their leaves; wash them gently and quickly in cold water and drip dry. When dry, dip each violet or leaf in the egg white and roll it quickly in granulated sugar to coat evenly, taking care not to get the sugar on too thick. Lay out on waxed papers to dry, well separated. In several hours or a day, the blossoms will be quite crisp and can keep for several months without losing fragrance or flavour. Store in an airtight tin, layered between waxed paper. Makes dozens.
Violet Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or violet infused sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup Tilia’s Violet Jelly
Icing sugar for dusting, optional
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Combine flour, sugar and salt into a medium bowl. Add the soft butter, incorporating it with a fork or pastry cutter until large crumbs form. Then gently knead by hand to form a large, even dough ball that sticks together.
Form cookie balls using a scant tablespoon of dough; you should end up with about 20. Place them on the baking sheets about 1.5 to 2″ apart. Press thumb or index finger deep into centre of each, bracing sides if needed to prevent cracking. Fill each hole with the violet jelly to a mounded round; (using a pastry bag or plastic sandwich bag with its corner snipped can be easiest). Freeze filled cookies at least 15 minutes or up to overnight. To bake- preheat oven to 325ºF. Bake frozen cookies for about 16-20 minutes on centre rack in oven until lightly golden brown. Note that jam centre will stay hot much longer than cookie dough and will deflate a bit as it cools. Once cookies are completely cool, dust with icing sugar. If not serving within a few hours, keep cookies in a closed container, and store in a cool place or refrigerated, eating within 3-4 days.
Tilia’s Gluten-Free Violet Thumbprint Cookies
2 oz cream cheese (full fat works best but low fat can be used)
2 oz butter softened
5 tbsp. granulated sugar or sugar substitute such as erythritol or Swerve
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup almond flour
About ½ cup Tilia’s Violet jelly
Heat your oven to 350ºF. Beat the cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla extract and sugar/sugar substitute together until smooth. Add the egg, combining well and then stir in the almond flour and mix in well. If your dough feels too soft to handle, simply form a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and cool it in the fridge for 20 minutes (or in the freezer for 10). Form into small balls with your hands (about the size of a small walnut) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press your thumb into the middle of each
ball to form an indentation. Fill each indentation with about 1 tsp. of violet jelly. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. The cookies are VERY SOFT when they come out of the oven. Let them cool down completely before removing from baking sheet otherwise they break apart. (They will firm up as they cool). Makes about 2 dozen cookies. We adapted these from another of our favourite websites https://sugarfreelondoner.com/
Making Violet Infused 0il
An infused oil is an oil which has had plant material added to extract the healing qualities from it. Infused oils are used in salves, creams, and for making massage oils.
Infusing violet into oil: Fill a clear glass jar with freshly picked violet flowers and leaves that have been allowed to sit overnight to allow moisture to partially evaporate. It is best if you can chop herbs into smaller pieces before placing them in the jar as this permits greater oil/herb surface contact. Cover with oil (light oils such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, apricot kernel oil, or jojoba oil work best).
Make sure you completely cover the plant material with the oil (about 2 inches above the plants). Insert a knife along the inside of the jar moving slowly around the sides of the jar to release any trapped air. Cover mouth of the jar with 2 to 3 layers of cheesecloth or a paper towel and secure with an elastic band or a ring from sealer lids. Label and place in a sunny location for 3 to 4 weeks. Gently strain oil into a bowl or measuring cup, being careful not to squeeze plant material or to pour any water that has settled to the bottom of the jar into the final oil blend. Discard plant material. Let oil sit covered with paper towel or cheesecloth for an hour or so, to allow any water to settle to bottom. Pour oil into a dark jar, being careful not to pour any of the sediment or water from the bottom of the oil into the jar. Add the contents of two 800 IU Vitamin E capsule to the oil to prevent spoilage (you should add this amount for every 2 cups of oil). Label and store in a cool dark place. This oil should last about one year. Do not use if they develop a rancid smell.
This method for infusing the violets into oil can also be used for dry plant material as well. Follow the process above and use a regular lid in this case rather than the cheesecloth. You do not need to worry about water in the oil in this method and can strain the oil directly into a dark bottle. Add the vitamin E and label bottle.
60ml (2 oz.) Infused oil
10 g (1 Tbsp. packed) grated beeswax
Essential oil (optional)
Heat oil and wax over hot water bath until wax melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add essential oil if using. Pour into a clean jar and cool completely before putting lid on. Makes a 2oz. jar.