Saturday, April 3, 2010

wild edibles- violets

                                                      (not a good example plant lol)

Spring is a wonderful time for finding wild edibles on the homestead . One of the first available for harvest  here are  violets and they are also one of our favorites. Luckily for us they  grow natural  and are very prolific.

There are over 900 species of violets in the world so exact identification is difficult but most all the varieties have the same edible and medicinal uses. All species  have 5 petals, which may have a yellow fur on the inside of two of the petals.Violets bloom  from March to June. Gather the  flowers when in full bloom, leaves anytime, although the younger leaves are more tender, and rootstock in fall. Roots, leaves and flowers can all  be dried  for later use.Violet leaves are high in vitamin c and several other nutrients.The flowers have a sweet mild aroma

The most common use for violets is using the flowers and leaves in salads and garnishes.  We eat them this way  nearly every day as long as they are in season. They make a pretty garnish in soups and on desserts too.The flowers can also be candied but in my experience although they taste great, getting them to look even half way good is difficult. For food purposes the flowers and leaves can also be jellied. I have not tried this recipe as yet but  since we have such an abundant crop of them this year, I just may as it  certainly looks good.  For a few more  interesting violet recipes check out

The flowers and leaves of violet are made into a syrup used in alternative medicine mainly for respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat.There are even a couple brands of this sold on the market. Following is the recipe I have on hand to eventually try out. We rarely get sick so I see no point in having too many herbal remedies in them medicine chest at once. Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 cup packed fresh crushed flowers and leaves. Cover and let stand for 12 hours. Strain and squeeze through cloth, add 2 lb. of sugar and boil for 1 hour or until syrupy. Store in glass jar. Give 1 tbs.(1 tsp. for children)  2 or 3 times a day.
Tea made from the entire plant is used to treat digestive disorders and "new research has detected the presence of a glycoside of salicylic acid (natural aspirin) which substantiates its use for centuries as a medicinal remedy for headache, body pains and as a sedative. The plants constituents are being studied and show these uses to be valid. Eugenol, Ferulic-acid, Kaempferol, Quercetin, Scopoletin, also show promise in the treatment of many kinds of cancer, arthritis, AIDS, gum disease and more."  
Teas for digestive issues can be made by taking  ¼ cup dried or fresh herb in 1 cup of water for  and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, flavor to taste. Take in ½ cup doses twice a day.  Used externally the fresh crushed leaves reduce swelling and soothe irritations. As a bath additive the fresh crushed flowers are soothing to the skin and the aroma is very relaxing.

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