I’ve always had a soft spot for sweet violet. I love the smell. The taste is divine. My favourite sweets are violet cremes. I used to treat myself to a small box of rose and violet cremes from Fortnum and Mason when I lived in London every Christmas. Just remembering the smell makes me feel deliciously relaxed.

Imagine my delight when I discovered Mother Nature had gifted me the wonderful violet growing in a damp but sunny corner of the garden.

Sweet Violet
Viola oderata – Sweet Violet

How to use sweet violet

Use the flowers and new leaves. They are edible so can be added to a salad. They made a welcome addition in the winter when violets flower and greens were traditionally hard to find.

Don’t use the roots as they may make you feel sick. The flowers make a wonderful syrup which has a delicate blue colour. They can also be sugared and used to decorate your baking.

How to make candied violets

Dip the flowers in beaten egg white and then sift sugar onto the flower. Put them on a paper towel and leave them to dry in your refrigerator (it takes about 24-hours). Remove the refrigerator moisture by sitting them at room temperature for a further 24-hours and then remove the stems. Store them in an airtight container. They’ll last a couple of months.

Violets as medicine

Sweet violet is best known as chest medicine. It was traditionally used for bronchial complaints such as bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma and those dry painful debilitating coughs. It’s other use was as a blood purifier due to its ability to stimulate the lymphatic system. Its leaves are cooling and demulcent so it soothes a dry painful chest. We now know that violet leaves contain salicylic acid. This further confirms its traditional use as an anti-inflammatory.