Ok, so this is the time (at least here in Spokane!) to pick violets. Why pick violets you ask? Check my previous post on violets here. The best time to pick flowers is the morning before the heat of the day, but after the dew has dried (if you have any dew).
Here is a step by step guide on how to make the Violet Syrup (which is actually an elixir!):
Pick 1 quart jar full of violet blossoms. You can fill the jar loosely, no need to press the flowers tightly, I just pick them using the jar as my container. As long as the place your picking from has low or no foot traffic and isn't sprayed you should be fine without washing them.
Pour hot water (let teapot come to a boil but wait till bubbling stops to pour) over till the jar is full and the water covers all the blossoms (also, check the water level after about five minutes the blossoms will have soaked some of the water up and you will need to pour a little bit more so that the blossoms are indeed covered).
Cover the jar with a plate or its lid (this will not only keep put unwanted things such as flour and sawdust that may be floating around your house as well as keeping in all that heat which is extracting all the medicinal molecules) and let it steep for 2 hours (i usually stick it in the windowsill to add the suns help in extracting the compounds from the violets). Watch the water underneath the violets as it will bleed a rich blue violet color.
When the violet blossoms have steeped for two hours they should look like this:
Strain the liquid off into a small sauce pan. Make sure you use a spoon to press out the violets! Turn the burner on medium to medium-high heat and let reduce by half, this will take about 45 minutes to a couple hours, but it will depend on your burner so keep an eye on it. Do not let the water boil! The liquid should move a little with convection currents and steam slightly so that you know its reducing, but if you start to see bubbles turn down the heat. You don't need to stir it and I recommend you don't.
When the liquid is reduced by half, add the honey and let it dissolve into the liquid. I usually add about 3 tablespoons honey which makes it sweet, but not cloying. (you can substitute sugar for honey if you prefer, but keep in mind that Honey is medicinal in and of itself acting as an antimicrobial) Next add 2 teaspoons of brandy to help preserve (the honey acts as a preservative as well if you want to avoid using alcohol you can simply add more honey.) Adding brandy to this is what makes this an elixir instead of a mere syrup. Also if you don't have brandy available you can substitute with vodka, but you will need to add 3 teaspoons, as vodka is only 40 proof and brandy is 50 proof (usually).
Pour liquid once more through a strainer to catch any blossoms that may have slipped through the first strainer and pour into sterile jars. I am using 2, 8oz and one 4 oz jar. Make sure all the jars have lids that fit! (as you can see below my 4oz jar is lidless). Also make sure to label your jars with not only the title of your concoction (you get to make that up yourself) as well as the ingredients and the date it was made. Elixirs have about a year shelf life, so this should last you all year and through the winter unless you have a lot of coughs to contend with :)
Hope you enjoyed this step by step guide to making the Violet Blossom Cough Elixir. Feel free to leave comments or questions.