Tales of a mythical violet liqueur
Years ago, I became determined that I would make violet liqueur. Obsessed, even.
My friend Susan told me about an incredible violet liqueur she found while traveling in Greece. With her experience as a bartender and world traveler, one could not take her praise of the violet liqueur lightly.
I had made a few liqueurs before. Irish Creme, creamy coco damiana blends (dairy free and sugar free, even – coconut milk and honey for the win). They were delicious and surprisingly easy. I had seen Theresa Broadwine make liqueurs at Medicines from the Earth. I had even tried my hand at making dandelion wine.
The idea of capturing the essence of violets was too much to shake. I wondered if I could possibly make one myself, if I could ever find that many violets at one time?
Spring came, and the violets came with it!
Dark purple-blue and highly fragrant, violets abundantly carpeted edges of parks, filled in the medians and spilled over the sidewalks on just about every block on in my neighborhood in southeast Portland.
The recipe I was going to use was from a Swedish blog. I couldn’t read most of it of course, but the recipe seemed straight forward. I could easily decipher “sugar” “water” and “violets” and the numbers in the directions.
It took a few days, but I found the 1000 grams I needed. I made the extract, strained it a few days later, added the simple syrup and alcohol. Let it mellow. Two months later I pour a shot to try the finished product.
One sip and I knew I messed it up. It was obviously watered down.
I checked my recipe and realized I made a mistake and added too much water and not enough alcohol. I still used my less-then stunning violet liqueur. It had a nice fragrance and mixed well with champagne, juices, and carbonated water. It goes great with Elderflower Pressé and port, as shown in the photos. But it wasn’t of mythical proportions as I had hoped.
When in doubt, make an elixir
This year, I felt the call of the violets again. They came about 3 weeks earlier than they did two years ago, and I spent a week scouting out easy to pick locations before the harvesting. I also knew I’d be making a glycerine elixir instead of a simple sugar based liqueur.
• Pack 2.5 cups of fresh, fragrant violet flowers to a quart jar
• Fill the jar 3/4 full of 40 proof alcohol (I used brandy)
• top off the last 1/4 with glycerine or honey
• Shake well. Let macerate for 4-8 weeks. Strain and re-bottle.
Do you eat fresh violets? Do you notice the tingly aliveness they impart on the back of the mouth?
Violet is awakening to the immune system and cleansing to the lympahtic system. That is why eating a violet creates that “tingly” feeling in the lymphatic-rich back of throat; that lymphatic tissue is coming in contact with violet and being activated.
I will write up a longer violet post someday, but for now, I want to say this creating and partaking in a violet elixir like this one is also heart medicine. Violets have heart-shaped leaves and are very soothing. A member of the violet family is even named Heart’s Ease Pansy – what I called as a kid Johnny Jump Up.
In Chinese Medicine, violets are in the “Clear Heat” category (again, I’ll go into the medicinal properties of violet in a dedicated post :). On an emotional level, violet helps us get old stuff off our chest. Violet clears the excess ‘gunk’ we’ve been carrying around and clear the irritation we have about it.
When that oppressive heaviness or smoldering clears, we are allowed a feeling of ease to just be us, to settling into our heart space. You can sense it just looking at a violet in flower; they are so small yet so complete and vibrant in their saturation of who they are, and they express it fully.
And the smell! Oh, the fragrance of violets is enough to lighten the heart.
Don’t overlook this little fleeting flower. A handmade violet elixir indeed can be a part of supporting the emotional body, particularly that of the heart center.
Happy Medicine making!
Take good care,