Those enchanting wood violets that appear in the spring make victims of proper lawns. Our lawn, already tainted by a towering black walnut tree, is anything but proper, and so it has become a field of mostly edible “weeds.” No pesticides or herbicides here. After making a delicious batch of violet jelly – the one that went viral on the Internet last spring — I decided to take the experiment a step further and made two types of violet vinegar. Two types because I wasn’t sure about the base. I used white vinegar for one and champagne vinegar for the other, on the theory that anything more flavorful would mask the floral tones.
After harvesting the flowers at midday from a shady spot (when they’re most aromatic), I shook them in a colander to loosen any dust. I mixed them with the vinegar in a 3:1 proportion (three parts vinegar to one part violet leaves) and placed them into very clean jars that had been doused with boiling water. Tightly capped, the violet mixture was set aside for 10 days, though I turned the jar upside down then right side up every day. The liquid started out clear and the violets blue and by the end, the violets had released all of their color into the liquid. I carefully decanted the vinegar into bottles that I am storing in the refrigerator, discarding the violet flowers.
So, was this a matter of color or did the flowers infuse the vinegar with flavor? I had saved each type of vinegar to compare with the violet vinegar, and yes, they had changed, becoming mellower and subtly floral. The two vinegars both worked well and so far, I haven’t decided which I like better. I went back to the lawn and garden, harvesting some baby kale and a bunch of violets, with their stems and tender leaves, for a lightly dressed salad that we ate outside in our lawn chairs. How’s that for local?