Tag Archives: Wild Violet

Free Salad for All

If you are willing to spend a little extra time, and do a little research, you can easily get half of your food for free. Today we were on a mission. Our mission was to gather a wild salad. We ended up coming home with a salad, a side, and and herbal tea.

The base for our salad was dandelion greens, field mustard greens, and garlic mustard.

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Field Mustard

 

The field mustard has the best, most mild flavor and the texture is similar to cabbage. My personal favorite part is the unopened flower pods. It is everywhere in Kentucky right now. We have seen entire fields completely full of it. The garlic mustard, on the other hand, is NOT my favorite. I have tried it several times raw and I just hate it. I thought I’d give it one last try; but in the future, I will not be adding it to my salad. If anyone knows any good recipes using garlic mustard let me know! It is so abundant and invasive, I want to learn to like it! Dandelion greens are bitter but I think they are quite good. Kind of an acquired taste

 

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Garlic Mustard

We topped the salad with wild violets, wild onion tops, and cattail shoots. The cattail shoots taste a lot like cucumbers, just be sure to forage them from a clean source. (They tend to grow in some seriously nasty places)

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Cattail Shoots

To pick cattail shoots, just grab the shoots at the base and pull slowly, the tender white shoots should pop right out. Wash thoroughly and peel off the outer later.

 

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Wild Onion

Here is the finished salad in all it’s glory:

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A delicious, beautiful salad, 100% organic and 100% free!

We also gathered some curly dock for a side dish.

Curly Dock

Curly Dock

I just chopped and sautéed the leaves in butter with wild onions and some not-so-wild garlic, then stirred in some parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper before serving. It was delicious. As long as dock is available, I will never pay for greens. (and for the record, the salmon was also wild caught…by some commercial fisherman.)

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We also found a patch of lemon balm. Lemon balm is very easy to identify because it has a very unique lemon smell. Robbie thinks it smells like lemon furniture polish. I, on the other hand, think it smells exactly like those chalky, old fashioned lemon hard candy sticks. (Does anyone know what I’m talking about??)

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We brewed a tea of the fresh leaves. It is believed that lemon balm can relieve insomnia. I’m not sure if it’s the lemon balm or the long day of foraging, but I don’t think I’ll have any trouble sleeping tonight.

 

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Wild Violet Syrup

I made my first batch of wild violet syrup last night. I had half expected it to taste like sugar water, but I was pleasantly surprised. It turned out to have a nice sweet floral taste and made a nice addition to my evening tea. I’ve always been familiar with wild violets, but never by that name. My grandma always called them fighting roosters, because kids used to compete by hooking the “crooks” behind the flower head together and pulling to see which head would pop off first. The person with a flower still attached would be the victor.

For this recipe you will need:

  • Wild violet blossoms
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice

I used white sugar in this recipe to achieve the ideal color, but I imagine you could use any type of sugar. Amounts will depend on the amount of violet blossoms you harvest.

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Wild Violet (Viola odorata)

Making violet syrup is simple. The most time consuming part of the process is picking the flower heads. Stooping and picking, and in my case, stooping and picking with a camera dangling from your neck. How many violet blossoms you use is up to you. The recipe is a 1:1 ratio so you can use as many or as little as you wish.

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Once you have picked your violets, place them in a jar or glass and add enough boiling water to cover the flowers.

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Let the flowers steep for an hour or two (until the water cools). Your violet water will look blue or green at this point, the violet color comes later when the lemon is added. At this point strain the flowers from the infused water and discard. Be sure it’s clear of any debris. Add equal parts violet infused water and sugar to a saucepan. It’s going to look something like this:

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Slowly add small amounts of lemon juice until desired color is reached. Now it looks like this:

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Pretty cool huh? Chemistry!

Now slowly bring the sugar water to a low boil for a minute or two. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally. That’s it! You have violet syrup now! Taste it. Isn’t it good?! Who would have thought?!

Transfer your syrup to whatever container you wish. Just make sure it’s a clear glass container, because you are going to want to show this stuff off.

 

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The finished product!

Enjoy!

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