The plan was to pick a hundred violets to make crystallized violets for the fun of it. Okay, more than for the fun of it, but you’ll see what the real plan was in another post. Can’t wait!!
Jean, my beautiful mother, and her mother Eleanor were April babies and would celebrate annually by walking the farm fields and woods to pick violets and other wildflowers-bluets, snaps, forget-me-nots, and to see which birds had returned for the spring. Mom and Grandma have long since passed but the violets appear on cue; every year I vow to take a walk with my sister to pick violets. Busy schedules often keep us apart so I walk, snap photos, send them to her and that’s how we get it done. I remember as a little girl watching Mother and Grandma Eleanor take off through the fields and come back chattering with stories of returning birds they’d seen along the way. Violets of white, yellow, pale blue and deep rich violet, and often a few other wildflowers were tucked into their pockets. Gleefully they’d commit it all to memory in a huge Audubon book Grandma kept in her library. Their memoirs date back to the 1950’s with pressed flowers tucked into the pages and dates of sightings scribbled by descriptions of flowers and birds. I am the keeper of that book.
I suppose you could choose any salad dressing; because violets are so delicate and the scent so subtle too much spice will overwhelm them. Try simply drizzling some high quality olive or walnut oil over the salad and a touch of cream of balsamic vinegar. Cream of Balsamic is perfection on strawberries, too.
Wild violets and their heart shaped leaves are edible and full of nutrients. Do not eat violets that would possibly have pesticides or chemicals OR are planted where dogs might, you know might do something on them, you know… and also make sure you wash them well even if gathered from the field.
To make this salad you have to watch for the violets to be in bloom, in western Pennsylvania it’s typically around mid April. Collect a dozen or more of the pretty blossoms and their heart shaped leaves, wash and dry them and keep them chilled so they don’t wilt.
Wild violets and leaves: a handful, washed and dried
Baby Spring Greens, washed and dried
Strawberries, fresh sliced
Cream of Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or walnut oil
BY JANE TAYLOR