The Violet of Toulouse is characterised by its bluish purple colour. It has a double flower (twice the usual number of petals) and is therefore larger than most other varieties of violet. It flowers from October to April. Before the widespread use of greenhouses, it was one of the rare fresh flowers sold during the winter.
A bit of History:
Initially Violets of Toulouse were cultivated north of the town. Since the middle of the XIXth century the flowers have been sold at the Marché aux Violettes des Jacobins and in the streets of the city centre. The heyday of the Violet of Toulouse was in the first half of the XXth century when it was exported throughout Europe as far as Russia. The extremely severe winter of 1956 resulted in major losses for many producers. At the same time other plants were starting
to be cultivated in greenhouses for the winter market. In 1985 only a handful of violet producers remained in business when the agronomist, Adrien Roucolle, decided to stimulate the cultivation of the Violet of Toulouse to avoid its extinction. He created a conservatory in the Municipal Greenhouses. Today the numerous producers of Violets of Toulouse are again thriving.
The flower is sold as a bouquet and for a long time it was the only fresh flowers available during the winter months.
However, numerous derivatives are also produced from the violet flowerviolet-flavoured sugar crystals have been available since the XIXth century. They are usually available in small boxes whose lids are decorated with violet flowers and used to decorate cakes and pastries.
The first "Violette de Toulouse" perfume was created in 1936 buy on-line
Violet syrup150 g violets
500 ml water
750 g sugar
Separate the petals of the violets from the other parts of the plant. Put them in a bowl and cover with 250 ml of boiling water. Place a small plate on top of the flowers to keep them undern the water. Let them macerate for 1 h 30 to 2 h.
Put the sugar and 250 ml water in a saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved heat it to boiling, skim and let simmer.
When the syrup is "cassé" (dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the syrup and then plunge it immediately into cold water. The sugar which remains on the handle should be brittle and snaps ("casser") between the teeth) remove from the heat.
Mix immediately the violet infusion and the syrup and stir for several minutes until well mixed. Let cool and poor into a bottle for storage.
Champagne + violet syrup = Kir Royal à la violette - delicious!!
Violet jellyViolet flowers (4 teacups)
A packet of powdered pectin
Sugar (4 teacups)
Take 4 cups of violet flowers and cover with 2 cups of boiling water and leave for 24 hours. Filter the infusion through a coffee filtre and discard the flowers.
Mix 2 cups of the infusion with the juice of a lemon and a packet of pectin. Bring the mixture to the boil. Add 4 cups of sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Boil vigourously for 1 minute. Pour into sterile pots and seal them.
Keep in a refrigerateur.
gin, crème de menthe, violet liqueur
milk, crème de cassis, violet liqueur
vodka, apricot liqueur, cane sugar syrup, Canada Dry, violet liqueur
vodka, violet liqueur, cranberry juice
vodka, violet liqueur, Gini, Donjon
Terre de violette
grapefruit juice, gin, violet liqueur
vodka, fresh cream, violet liqueur
To learn more about the Violet of Toulouse read
Sandrine Banessy's book "La Violette de Toulouse"
A few links:
Toulouse, cité des violettes - a personal site about Violets of Toulouse
La Maison de la Violette - a barge on the Canal du Midi in Toulouse and dedicated to Violets of Toulouse
Regals, Toulouse - for all violet products
Cave spirituelle - violet liqueur, violet tea, violet sweets...
Couleurs de Vie Zen - Original Berdoues® Violet of Toulouse perfume
La Boutique de Bébrix - Violet perfumes and soaps; violet flavored Sweets, violet apéritif, liqueur and jam as well as numerous books about violets.
ÓMike Briley & Chantal Moret 1999-2009