I’ve talked before about how one of the things I love about herbalism is that historically it has been an oral tradition, something to be shared. And so, in the spirit of interdependence, I am happy to continue this tradition. The etymology of the word “amateur” describes a passion with little experience, and indeed I am sharing as I learn, so please note that I am not a botanist, a licensed medical professional, etc., I’m just someone in awe of nature’s abundance!
The weather has been absolutely perfect this week, and after seemingly *just* missing their peak last year, I was so happy to harvest nearly a quart of wild violets from our own backyard. Commonly known as garden violets or sweet violets, Viola odorata and Viola sororia were originally native to Europe, though now grow abundantly in North America as well. With creeping roots, they can be found along hedges, throughout wooded areas, and, if you’re lucky, in your own backyards! The whole plant is edible, and rich in vitamins C and A. Their leaves are cordate, or heart shaped, and may be used in a tea to soothe coughing. The flowers are a lovely bit of color tossed in salads, but I chose to make an herbal vinegar with my harvest!
After collecting and lightly rinsing the petals, I packed them into an airtight glass jar and topped with white vinegar. Already, the color imparted to the vinegar is a vibrant purple.
After 2 weeks in a cool, dark space, I’ll strain the petals and voila! Herbal vinegar, to be used in salad dressings, cooking, and tonics. Have you ever collected wild violets? What was your experience in preservation? Share your favorite herbalist tips in the comments!