So. It appears that spring has sprung. For a bit anyway. With the sudden sun, the ground has started to warm up and both the plants and weeds alike are showing a burst of life. There is a reason that we get rather excited about this – the sun starts the main bulk of the foraging season and one of the first plants that you can find are out and about now. Sweet violets, or viola odorata.
We are very lucky as near our studio we have a huge bank of violets within a tiny walking distance – and the thing is, we are based not in the country, but slap bang on the edges of Brighton.
There is a bit of a misconception that foraging can only occur if you are in the wilds of the countryside, or at least near to the edges of the urban sprawl. In fact, it is often harder to find stuff within a close vicinity of the next, with the city and town environment providing far richer pickings. This is why we are starting to lead Edible City foraging walks in and around Brighton (email us for details).
But, back to the sweet violet. These are now in full bloom and should be available near you now. As well as the arresting violet colour, they are accompanied by a strong and arresting perfume. Smaller than the violas that you get in the garden centre, these beautiful plants reside on sunny banks, often in huge numbers.
As with all foraging – be respectful, don’t ever pick any more than you need, ask permission and never dig anything up. But a few flowers to scatter on a chocolate cake or to perfume a canister of sugar will add a wealth of the incredible sweet violet flavour to your baking… think a wholly natural parma violet sweet and you are there..
(photos by claire potter)