There's something about catching a glimpse of a Violet patch amongst all the Spring green that becomes like a treasure hunt for me. Flashes of purple as I drive down busy streets, and the strength of their scent given how small they are. I love Violets! I started experimenting with violet infused honey a few years ago, and this year I created a little challenge for myself to go full-on violet with my menu and for an upcoming cocktail event that we'll be doing for Solabee Flowers here in Portland.
What I came to realize, is that making violet syrups comes with a whole array of colors and alchemy! The ratio of Violets to water matters, as does your decision to add acid to the mix...So I decided to document it so as to be helpful :)
1. collect several cups of fresh violets
2. boil some water, add the water to the violets
3. let steep for 24 hours, covered
4. strain the violet water into a pot, making sure to press out all of the water/color
5. mix with sugar over a low flame to dissolve sugar, careful not to bring to boil
6. pour syrup into a clear glass bottle so you can enjoy the brilliant color!
Now for the details in my experiment...
Take 1: I didn't pay much attention to the amount of water I added to the maybe 2 cups of violets, and so the color ended up fairly light. I ended up with 1 cup of violet water, added 2 cups of white sugar (this is important- if you use natural sugar, the violet syrup will turn muddy brown!). I then added a few drops of lemon juice, which instantly turned the syrup magenta. (See the middle bottle in the picture above) Pretty!
Take 2: I paid a lot more attention to the amount of violets & water. I gathered 2 cups(pressed down!) of fresh violets, added 4 cups of just boiled water, let steep for 24 hours, strained it, ended up with 4 full cups of violet water, and then added 3.5 cups of white sugar to it over a low flame. Be careful not to actually boil the violet syrup- you just want it to be warm enough for the sugar to dissolve. The result was much more appealing to me sans lemon-juice because this batch was a lot deeper true violet color that reflects the violets more! (See the left-most bottle in the picture above).
Take 3: a mixture of the first two- see the bottle to the right in the picture above.
Conclusion: My favorite is the batch which had a proper ratio of violets to water, and no lemon juice added. If you're going to make a cocktail with this syrup and lemon, it will make it a more magenta color anyway, so my preference is to keep the violet its natural true color without the acid. I will be making a special cocktail featuring this syrup real soon, so stay tuned!