Dye-Free Sprinkles from Sweet Violets1
Last spring I debuted my first foraging post when I shared about the violet velly (jelly) I made from sweet violets growing ‘wild’ on our property. Once I discovered that violets are edible (and beneficial for health!) I knew these early spring beauties would give me plenty of opportunity to try out new recipes. I’ll share more about their health benefits later this week. (If you can’t wait that long, click here for a re-fresh.)
Though there are plenty of them growing on our property, the blossoms are small and wide-spread so harvesting a large quantity of them takes a significant amount of time. This year I harvested enough for two new recipes, and I’d like to share the first one with you today. So without further adieu, I give you… violet decorating sugar!
Maybe that seems anticlimactic for some of you, but it’s a big deal in our household. Because Owen has a sensitivity to artificial food dyes, we don’t eat food containing them. You’d be amazed at how many things contain artificial dyes (namely, red). This dietary limitation means that Owen doesn’t eat many of the things other children typically consume like brightly-decorated birthday cakes, M&Ms, marshmallows (blue dye… seriously…) and sprinkles. So naturally when I handed him the cookie pictured below, he looked up at me in confusion and said dryly “I can’t eat sprinkles.” I smiled and replied “but you can eat sprinkles that don’t have artificial dye. I made these from flowers in our backyard.” The excitement in his eyes and his voice (“What?! YES!”) made my heart smile!
Now don’t get me wrong, these sprinkles aren’t healthy. They’re just not artificial. And they’re not really sprinkles – this is technically decorating sugar (inspired by the recipe I found here). The purple ‘sprinkles’ are made from sweet violet blossoms and the green are made from the leaves. I added a splash of lemon juice to the recipe so they both have a citrus-y hint, but their unique tastes still ring through. Please note that sweet violets and African Violets are NOT the same thing! You can’t eat African Violets. So don’t.
Both sets of sprinkles were approved by the taste buds of the entire family. They’re super easy to make. Here’s how…
Sweet Violet Purple & Green Decorating Sugar
Hands-On Time: 5 Min Dry Time: 1-3 Hours Yield: 1 Cup
- ½ cup violet petals (or ½ cup violet leaves)
- ¾ cup granulated white sugar
- Optional: ½ tsp lemon zest or citrus extract
- Rinse blossoms (or leaves) in a strainer. Dry in a salad spinner or by blotting with a paper towel.
- Add sugar, blossoms (or leaves) and citrus flavor to a food processor and process until the mixture reaches your desired texture and color.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Spread the sugar out in a thin layer on the paper/Silpat.
- Turn on your oven for 1 minute (350*) and immediately turn it off. Place the cookie sheet with the sugar into the oven. This process will help to dry the sugar. Leave the sugar in the oven for at least 1 hour, but longer if possible.
- Once the sugar has dried, return it to the food processor to break up large chunks.
- Store the colored decorating sugar in a glass jar with lid in a cool, dark place as sunlight will cause the natural color to fade.