I have always had an interest in natural medicine, foraging, homesteading and herbalism. I believe my upbringing definitely helped cultivate these type of interests, as my family always had fruits and vegetables growing in our gardens, chickens in our yard, a general desire for organic home-grown food (even before we knew what “organic” was) and a pull towards physical labor.
This spring I find myself in a new location, and I am lucky that there happens to be acres of un-sprayed, pesticide-free land around here. When the weather started getting a little warmer, the first flowers I noticed (even before the dandelions) were tiny little purple and blue and white wild violets. Some people think these are an annoying weed, but myself personally, I wish the lawn never had to be mowed because I don’t want to destroy these little babies. Then it just clicked: this is the perfect land and perfect time in my life to start learning about foraging in my area and using the naturally growing plants around me to benefit my happiness and yes, health! These adorable little violets are the perfect place to start.
Of course before I went crazy on the cute little flowers, I did a bit of reading on how to use them, and why. A good place to start is with the Herbal Academy of New England’s post on the Viola flowers which you can find here. Another site I enjoyed reading is Wild Foods & Medicines and her post on violets can be found here. I just love Elise’s site and posts! And of course, before ingesting large quantities of anything that could have interactions with medications that you’re on, or if you’re pregnant or have any kind of health concerns, please check with your provider first.
Now onto what I’m doing with my violets 🙂
There are two kinds scattered throughout our backyard, the common blue violet (which is actually purple) and the white and blue kind. They can also be yellow, pink, or a combination of those colors. A white and blue one is shown in the picture below and you can see the fuzzy hair-like part near the middle, as well a bug — all natural baby!
Today I gathered them for the first time as I had planned on doing but it really worked out quite nicely because it rained for hours last night but was nice and sunny today so I look at it like they were washed nicely with the rain and were dried for ideal picking by the sun. Because of the recent rain, once I picked the flower tops I only washed them lightly by spraying
them with a spray bottle and laid out just the flower parts to dry on a towel. I plan on using these for tea later on. I would like to pick as much for tea as possible now, dry them and have them for later when they’re no longer growing in the yard. Once I have the quantities I want (obviously I plan on picking extra to give as gifts ’cause um why not?!), then I will work on picking the leaves and drying them for tea as well and from there I will take to enjoying them fresh in salads and such.
There are soo many amazing things that can be done with wild violets such as candied violets for garnishing cakes, cookies, etc. Violet syrup, violet tea, violet leaf tea, crushed dried violet sprinkles for cookies or ice cream, violet jelly, violet honey. And of course medicinal tinctures and infusions (tea). The leaves can be cooked into lasagna, pastas, or eaten raw in salad along with the flowers. Honestly, if you couldn’t tell, I’m super excited to start trying these new recipes!
One other thing I decided to do with some of the flowers was to press them in a book until they dry and then use them for arts and crafts type of things. I love keeping pressed flowers as bookmarks in my bible to save favorite verses but they can also be used to decorate glass picture frames, or as an artistic way of displaying your favorite herbs and flowers within a frame. I placed two pieces of scrap printer paper on either side to prevent the colors from staining the books and will wait a week before checking them. Other ways to press flowers can be found here. There really are so many neat ideas for what to do with them! My niece even bought an iPhone cover with dried pressed flowers inside. I love it!
Hope you guys are inspired to do a little foraging yourselves! I will try to update any recipes I try or neat things I end up making with these cuties!