Easy Herb Infused Vinegar Recipe With Sweet Violet

Learn how to make an easy herb infused vinegar with sweet violet – a gently fragranced perennial plant with medicinal properties, delicate purple flowers & edible leaves.

Easy herb infused vinegar recipe with sweet violet. Photo: Sarah Baker, minimalgardener.com.

If you’re looking for a simple, flavourful way to add some zip to your salad dressings or marinades, this easy herb infused vinegar recipe with sweet violet makes a great addition to your food cupboard.

Known as Viola odorata in Latin, sweet violet is a perennial plant native To Europe & Asia. With its subtle floral fragrance, heart-shaped leaves and delicate flowers, sweet violet has been used as far back as ancient times for it’s medicinal benefits. So much so, infact, the Greeks used it to make perfume, the Romans wine & the Celts their own cosmetics!

Naturally High In Vitamin C

Naturally high in vitamin C, sweet violet is also used as a herbal remedy for respiratory complaints. However, one of it’s other many benefits is its edible flowers.

And it’s these that make it so useful for making herbal vinegar infusions, which you can use to add a deliciously unique twist to salad dressings, non alcoholic ‘switchels’ or marinades.

Other Herbs You Can Use To Infuse Vinegar

Keep in mind, sweet violet blooms in early spring, so if you can’t find any, herb infused vinegar can, in theory, be made with any edible flower or herb. For example, you could use rosemary, thyme or lavender.

If they’re in season though, sweet violets are generally fairly easy to find & I think their delicate fragrance & beautiful indigo hue makes for a lovely plant to infuse vinegar with.

How To Identify Sweet Violet

A photo of a sweet violet plant in the wild. Photo: Sarah Baker, minimalgardener.com.

Sweet violets are usually quite easy to spot, once you know what to look for. We have loads growing in & around the woodlands where we live, so I tend to pick just a few flowers at a time, from different spots. That way I don’t leave too much of a footprint.

Look for sweet violets from early spring – they’re typically low-growing plants & can reach up to around six inches in height. Leaves are heart shaped & grow in a rosette pattern – they also have quite a distinct crease down the middle.

Flowers have five petals, which are most commonly a deep violet in colour, although they can also be a lighter lilac shade, or even white.

Sweet Violets Have Delicate Floral Scents

A sweet violet flower. Photo: Wyxina Tresse via unsplash.com.

You’ll notice the flowers also have a sweet, delicate scent that’s distinctly ‘perfumey’ & also a bit woody. Some describe it as a powdery scent & quite similar to the iris. You can gently crush the leaves between your fingers to help release the smell & get more of an idea.

You might also notice small, bulbous structures growing at the base of the plant – these are plant’s reproductive organs.

As with any wild plant, it’s really important to identify it correctly and not mistake it for a similar-looking plant, which might be toxic. Sweet violet, for example, looks a little like African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha), which isn’t edible. It’s also important not to confuse it with common Dog Tooth violet (Viola riviniana).

When starting out, some people find plant identification apps helpful when spotting plants. But do keep in mind they may not always be 100% accurate.

Easy Herb Infused Vinegar Recipe With Sweet Violet

Here’s how to make an easy herb infused vinegar with sweet violet.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sweet violet flowers
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 sterilized glass bottle/jar with lid
  • Small circle of parchment paper (if your bottle/jar has a metallic lid).

Instructions

  1. Pick a handful of fresh sweet violet flowers, or enough to fill approximately a standard sized tea cup.
  2. Rinse the flowers gently in water, filtered if possible. Allow to air dry. Remember to remove the stems if still attached.
  3. Place the flowers in a sterilized glass jar, or bottle.
  4. Pour the white wine vinegar over the flowers until they are completely covered.
  5. If your jar or bottle has a metal lid, place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the bottle neck/top of jar. This is to prevent the vinegar reacting with the metal & rusting it.
  6. Place the lid on the jar and store your herbal infusion in a cool, dark place for 1-3 weeks (the longer you leave it the deeper the colour & more potent the infusion). You can also shake the jar gently now & again to help infuse the flavours & release the colour.
  7. After 1-3 weeks, strain the vinegar through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
  8. Pour the infused vinegar back into a clean, sterilized glass jar or bottle.
  9. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

Prepared & stored correctly, vinegar should last up to 3 months in a cool, dry place. Refrigeration should prolong life even further.

5 Ways To Use Herb Infused Vinegar With Sweet Violet

Sweet violet infused vinegar can be used in a variety of ways. I tend to use it most frequently in homemade salad dressings.

Here are 5 ways you might use it:

1 – As a salad dressing

Mix sweet violet infused vinegar into your favourite salad dressing recipe to add a subtle floral tone. For a super simple vinaigrette, mix 2 tbsp infused vinegar with 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil if you want to make a smaller or larger batch) and add salt to taste. For a slightly sweeter dressing you can add a little sugar or honey. Whisk the mixture or shake it in a jam jar until it emulsifies.

2 – As a marinade

Homemade marinades are a delicious & easy way to add to flavour to meat, chicken & fish. Or tofu if you’re veggie. Marinades are also a good way to tenderise meat. To make a simple marinade, mix 1 part infused vinegar with 3 parts oil, a little salt & natural flavourings such as fresh or dried herbs.

3 – As a mixer for cocktails

If you like a cheeky tipple, using vinegar in cocktails is a way to add acidity without the use of citrus or powdered acids. The sweet violets also add a unique & subtle floral twist.

4 – To make a switchel

For something non alcoholic, try using your infused vinegar to knock up a switchel. Or ‘haymaker’s punch’ as it’s sometimes called. An old farmer’s energy drink, it’s made from water, vinegar (traditionally apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’) & ginger. Sugar, molasses, honey or maple syrup can also be added for sweetness. Switchel is traditionally thought to have a number of benefits – from improved gut health to electrolyte replenishment. Here’s a recipe.

5 – To make a buttermilk substitute

Buttermilk was often traditionally used in scones to make them deliciously high & fluffy. It’s harder to come by these days, but add 1 tbsp of infused vinegar to 250 ml of milk & you’ve got a simple buttermilk alternative, with a subtle sweet violet twist.


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