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MORAN: Violets are the first ‘sign of spring’

A bowl of violet flowers picked by the author.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Michéle Wood
April 05, 2017 - 12:00 PM

OPINION


Spring is a time of growth, with the months of April and May heralding a succession of flowers, both wild and domesticated.

The most exciting are those that pop first; shortly after the last snow banks have melted away. Which flower or plant is the sign of spring? I would make the case that violets are the truest symbol of the arrival of spring.

Violets cover lawns, fields, and forests in a vibrant bloom of unobtrusive violet flowers. If the breeze blows the right way on a sunny April afternoon the rich smell of these flowers can be experienced a block away. If you are strolling through these beauties be careful not to tread on the first busy bees making their rounds, they are still a little slow after their hibernation.

For the strongest flavour it is best to harvest these edible flowers in the afternoon, after at least one or two days without rain. This can be done from a patch every few days until they go to seed, but the early crop is always the best.

The most straightforward method to extract their flavour is to steep them like tea and add sugar to make a simple syrup. Use this syrup as a feature in a classic cocktail or add to carbonated water for a family friendly purple pop.

Violets can also be preserved by gently brushing a mixture of water, egg whites, over the entire surface of the flower. Once coated, place them in the oven on low heat with the oven door open to crisp them. These will be preserved and ready to use as a garnish on special occasions.

These flowers can also be used fresh on just about anything: Raw oysters, cheese plates, salads, and much more.

They are the first of many wild herbaceous edible plants in our immediate surroundings waiting to be incorporated into our daily cuisine.

Violets are the first 'sign of spring' in the author's opinion.
Violets are the first 'sign of spring' in the author's opinion.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom.


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