We have created an identification sheet to help you sort out your violets from your pansies, the species above are the ones likely to be found in hedgerows, woodland, sand dunes and arable fields. you can see the differences between each species but also consult a field guide to confirm your ID.
Sweet Violet Liqueur
Sweet Violet is very ‘in’ at the moment, many gin and liqueur companies are making their own violet versions, but many (the vast majority) use artificial colourings and flavours to give it the colour and taste. This is our recipe for actual Sweet Violet Liqueur, made with real violets,
Firstly the Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) is our only ‘violet’ smelling violet in the UK, so there is little to no chance of getting the identification of this plant wrong (but confirm with field guides etc), if it does not smell of violet don’t use it. That also applies to Sweet Violets too, some do not give out there lovely aroma if they are old or if it is cold, so smell each flower and make sure it is worthy of including.
From my experience in the North-west and North Wales, unless you have some in the garden you are never going to come across a huge patch of Sweet Violets. The areas I find them are close to gardens or in old hedgerows, but usually I can find enough to make around 250ml whilst leaving enough flowers left for the early bees to enjoy too. Unlike fruit liqueurs and gins like Sloe Gin where you can make litres every autumn, this is something very special and you can usually only make small batches.
When the petals infuse their colour it is rather stunning, but does not remain stable in our experience, it fades over the coming weeks (not that it lasts that long anyway). So enjoy it sooner rather than later.
A couple of handfuls of Sweet Violet flowers (enough to fill a small kilner jar 3/4 full).
Vodka or Gin - enough to fill the jar and cover the flowers.
Sugar - to taste
Place the Sweet Violet petals in a small kilner jar, at least 3/4 filled with petals. Pour over the vodka (or gin) and leave overnight; a short time after you will start to see the liquid slowly turning purple, and by morning it will be a wonderful purple colour.
Once the petals are pretty much clear or have lost their colour it is done. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or muslin, add sugar to taste, we recommend about 50g per 200ml, but if you want it sweeter add more. Stir the sugar until dissolved and place in a nice bottle.
Enjoy neat over ice!