Viola (violets, violas and pansies) are among the most popular edible
flowers in America--and with good reason. All flowers are beautiful, but
viola are easy to grow and are among the few flowers that actually taste
good, too. The simple addition of a few brilliant blooms transforms any
dish into an elegant presentation.
Both the flowers and leaves in fresh and dried forms have been standard
fare in Europe and other areas in the world since before the 14th
century. Fresh flowers are most often used for garnishing and
crystallizing, The pungent perfume of some varieties of v.odorata adds
inimitable sweetness to desserts, fruit salads and teas while the mild
pea flavor of v.tricolor and most other viola combines equally well with
sweet or savory foods, like grilled meats and steamed vegetables. The
heart-shaped leaves of the v. odorata provide a free source of greens
throughout a long growing season. They add texture to green salads when
young and tender. Later in the season, slightly tougher, older leaves
are cooked with other potted herbs and greens in soups, stews and stir-frys..
Violets aren't just another pretty face. They are loaded with
phytochemicals and medicinal constituents that have been used in the
treatment of numerous health problems from the common cold to cancer.
The late Euell Gibbons even referred to them as "nature's vitamin
pill (1)." A 1/2 cup serving of leaves can provide as much vitamin
C as three oranges.
Few foods bring as much to the table as viola -- stunning aesthetic
appeal for a wide array of foods, great flavors ranging from sweet to
savory, abundance from easily grown plants, and health-giving
constituents unequaled by much commercially available produce. Eat and
Caution: Never eat plants or flowers unless you are certain that
they are the edible variety. SEE CAUTION BELOW:
VIOLETS (v. odorata and other native species)
|| Most commonly, the wild, blue violet with heart shaped
| Parts used for culinary purposes:
|| Flowers and leaves, fresh and
|| Sweet to mild greens flavor. Taste to assess the flavor.
The perfumed varieties (usually blue to purple) should be reserved for
sweet teas, beverages and desserts described here. The pea-flavored
varieties can be used for the savory foods described below under
"Violas and Pansies: v. tricolor." They are equally lovely on
sweets, but don't add the fabulous flavor of the aromatic varieties.
VIOLAS AND PANSIES especially v. tricolor, also known as 'Johnny Jump
Ups' or Heartsease.
Many colors with alternating, thin serrated leaves on
| Parts used for culinary purposes:
|| Fresh flowers
|| Mild pea flavors.
Caution: Never eat flowers or other parts of plants unless you are
certain of their identification, that they are edible and that you do not have an allergy to
them. Never eat large quantities of any food that is new to you,
as you may trigger a serious allergic reaction. Be aware that
various chemicals, commonly used along roads, in gardens and along
rights of way, may be highly poisonous. Be certain that your
specimens are safe and accurately identified before gathering or using
them. The use of violets medicinally or in large quantities is not
recommended without private consultation with a professionally trained
professional. Many plants that are safe in small quantities, such
as those used as garnishes or decorations are medicinal in large
quantities. Use moderation. Do not use rare plants for food.
! ! ! IMPORTANT ! ! !
African violets are NOT viola and are NOT considered edible. DO
NOT SUBSTITUTE AFRICAN VIOLETS FOR SWEET VIOLETS IN THESE OR OTHER
RECIPES. Beware also of look-alikes and sound-alikes, as many
plants are nicknamed "violet" because of their color.
Disclaimer: Personal experience and historical
practice present a long heritage of the use of Viola as a food
material. However, The American Violet Society and contributors to
this site assume no liability associated with the consumption of Viola
or any other foods described on this website. The use of any
material on this site presumes that the user assumes all risk associated
with such use.