Learn how to make beautiful candied wild violets with 3 simple ingredients!
Candied violets seem to have first appeared during the 1860s in Toulouse, France, where they are known as violettes cristallisees. Aside from eating them like candy, sugared violets make a lovely garnish for cakes and other desserts. This simple recipe is a fun weekend project to do with kids too!
Making sugared violets is an easy way to preserve violet flowers. The beautiful crystallized violets can be used as a garnish for cakes and cookies.
Violets are edible flowers in the Viola family that grow wild and bloom in springtime all over the world. There are over 100 species of Viola flowers in a variety of colors with blue, purple, and white violets being the most common.
If you're looking for more ways to use violets in the kitchen check out all of my violet recipes including my wild violet syrup recipe to make color-changing drinks and my vibrant-hued violet jelly recipe, which makes a beautiful edible gift!
Table of contents
Ingredients and Substitutions
Wild Violets - The main ingredient you'll need for candying violets. I used common blue violets (Viola sororia) that grow in my yard. Substitutions: Use any species of the Viola family that grows near you. Use this same method to make candied edible flowers from any edible flower that you grow in your garden or can find near you.
Note of caution: African violets (Saintpaulias spp) are common house plants that are not edible at all and should not be confused with wild violets.
Sugar - Several types of sugar can be used for candied flowers. Superfine sugar (aka caster sugar) is the best choice to coat delicate flowers evenly without weighing them down, but regular sugar will work too. Pulse granulated sugar a few times in a food processor to refine it a bit. You can also use colored sanding sugar, a type of decorating sugar that will give candied violets a shiny, sparkly coating.
Edible Glue - There are two options that will make the sugar stick to the violet petals. Lightly beaten egg whites are traditionally used, but if you are wary of using raw eggs or do not eat eggs there is another option. To make egg-free or vegan candied violets use lightly beaten aquafaba, which is the cooking liquid leftover from cooking chickpeas or in canned chickpeas. Aquafaba has similar properties to egg whites and works just as well as them in this recipe. It is what I used and is shown in the images.
How To Make Candied Violets
Step 1: Gather Violet Flowers
First, you'll need to find and pick fresh violet flowers when they are in bloom. Pick as many or as little as you want to make. I would suggest picking at least 2 dozen flowers to decorate a cake. Make sure to pick flowers with long stems left on so you can hold the stems while sugaring the flowers.
Gather all of the violets into a bouquet and shake out any soil or insects that may be hiding in them. You can also rinse them gently in a bowl of water if you like but I found it wasn't necessary.
Step 2: Set Up Mise en Place (Organize Workspace)
Set up your workspace with all of your ingredients and tools before you begin making the sugared flowers. Fill a small dish or dishes with the sugar(s) and lightly beat the egg white or aquafaba with a fork until frothy in a small bowl. Lay down a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper, a small clean paintbrush, and a small spoon.
Step 3: Paint on Egg Whites or Aquafaba
Working with one violet flower at a time, hold the flower stem and paint a thin layer of egg white or aquafaba onto the front and back of the petals.
Step 4: Sprinkle Sugar Over the Flowers
Hold the flower over the dish of sugar and sprinkle sugar by the spoonful over the flower until it is fully coated in sugar. Gently shake off excess sugar then set the flower down on the parchment or wax paper to dry. Pinch off the stems and repeat steps 3 and 4 with each flower.
Step 5: Air Dry or Dehydrate
Let the crystallized flowers dry completely in a dry and warm area of your home for at least 24 hours or dry them in a dehydrator. Alternatively, you can turn the oven for a couple of minutes to warm it to about 100˚F then turn it off and put the flowers in the oven to dry over several hours or overnight.
Once the sugared violets are completely dry, store them in an airtight container. Place them on a crumpled paper towel to act as a cushion for the delicate candy violets. They should keep for months if stored properly.
Tip: Save the food-grade desiccant packets you often see used in dry food packages or supplement bottles and place 1 or 2 in the container with the violets to help keep them from reabsorbing moisture from the air.
How to Use Candied Violets
Use candied flowers to decorate baked goods like cakes and cookies or as a topping for ice cream. Eat them on their own as a simple violet candy. Use them as a fancy dessert garnish. Package them in small jars or boxes to give as edible gifts.
Tips for Foraging Wild Violets
Wild violets are easily identifiable by their 5 petalled flowers and dark green heart-shaped leaves. They are low-growing plants that prefer fertile soil and are commonly found in meadows, pastures, lawns, and at the edges of wooded areas.
Violets fall under the Viola genus with Viola sororia or common blue violet being one of the most common varieties found here in New England. Viola pedata or bird’s foot violet is another common wild violet variety found in the US. Viola odorata or sweet violet is a variety known for its sweet scent and is commonly found throughout Europe and Asia. Check out this comprehensive list of violet species to find a variety that grows near you.
Always use caution when foraging wild edible plants. Make sure to identify the plant correctly by referencing guidebooks or asking an experienced forager to confirm a plant's identity.
Candied violets taste sweet with a mild floral taste. Sweet violets (Viola odorata) will have a stronger floral scent and taste.
Violets are known to bloom in springtime throughout the world. In New England, they are in bloom from mid-April to mid-May. As you move farther south violets will bloom earlier.
More Ways to Use Edible Flowers
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