Wild Foragers, Violets, Spring Enchantments

Violet has been on our minds this spring as we see her pretty little flowers blooming here in southeastern Utah. Violets are one of the earliest wild plants to appear in the season, and we are reminded of her beauty as well as her long history of culinary and herbal use that may have us deciding to seize spring for all that it is!

Violet, being rich in vitamin C, indeed has our attention for a supportive immune boost! 

We love to harvest the fresh leaves and flowers to incorporate into springtime salads, juices, and refreshing smoothies. Violet, of course, also makes a really lovely tea, vinegar, or syrup, not only for the vitamin C content but also for soothing respiratory symptoms. 
Violet has a cooling and moistening energy, and its demulcent and expectorant properties are soothing to a sore throat, dry cough, and other respiratory irritation.
The recipe for Wild Forager’s Syrup to follow is worth a try if you have the wild plants available. This syrup is demulcent, expectorant, and rich in vitamin C, and by taking a small amount daily, you can benefit from an added boost to your immune system.
You can also use a larger amount during respiratory infection to ease coughs, congestion, and irritated respiratory mucosa. 
The syrup combines the fresh juice of plantain and violet with a pine needle infusion, all teamed up with antimicrobial, expectorant, and soothing raw honey. Enjoy!
Foragers syrup
Wild Forager’s Syrup
Ingredients
½ cup fresh plantain (Plantago spp.) leaf, chopped
½ cup fresh violet (Viola spp.) leaf and/or flower, chopped
⅛ cup fresh pine (Pinus spp.) needle, chopped
½-2 cups (6-25 oz) raw honey
Directions
  • First, make the plantain and violet juice: Combine fresh plant material with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes.
  • Strain plantain and violet juice through a coffee filter or fine strainer. Measure the amount of liquid you have squeezed out of the filter or strainer, and set aside.
  • Heat ½ cup water to boiling.
  • Place pine needles in a heat-safe glass jar or mug and pour ½ cup of just-off-the boil water over them. Let steep, covered, for 20-30 minutes.
  • Strain pine needle infusion through a coffee filter or fine strainer. Measure the amount of liquid you have squeezed out of the filter or strainer, and pour it into a small saucepan.
  • Add plantain and violet juice to the saucepan.
  • Add honey in a 1:2 liquid: honey ratio (e.g., for 1 cup of liquid, use 2 cups of honey) for a shelf life of 1 year (refrigerated), or in a ratio of 2:1 liquid: honey for a shelf life of 3 weeks (refrigerated) (1; 2).
  • Warm mixture just slightly to enable the liquid and sweetener to mix. Avoid heating above 110 degrees F (1).
  • Transfer syrup to a sanitized bottle or jar (ideally, a dark-colored jar to protect from light exposure) using a sanitized funnel and cap tightly.
  • Label and store in the refrigerator.
  • Take 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon as needed.
Note: this syrup should not be given to children under 1 year of age.
Of course, always be sure you are 100% certain of your identification before consuming wild violet plants – or any plant for that matter!
Violets have been confused for poisonous plants, such as larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) or monkshood (Aconitum uncinatum). Look for the heart-shaped leaves of violets—both larkspur and monkshood have more than two lobes per leaf. Also, do not consume African violets (Streptocarpus spp.), which are unrelated, inedible plants!

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