Cooking with Violets: Edible Herbs

Did you know violets are the most underrated of all herbs? Perhaps that’s because they are often overlooked, growing at the base of gardens, under shrubs and in other less visible spots. But despite their subtle nature, violet leaves have exceptional culinary properties and can be used to add a unique flavor to your dishes.

If you love cooking with herbs or want to experiment with new flavors, here is everything you should know about violets as an ingredient. Keep reading for more information on how to use violets in your kitchen, tips on planting them at home and suggested combinations when using them in recipes.

What is a Violet?

Violets are flowering plants that belong to the genus Viola. They are one of the most widely distributed plants, growing in every continent except Antarctica. There are approximately 100 species of violets, but they are not all edible.

Many people use the term “violet” to refer to the distinct aroma and taste of what we botanists call “sweet violet” (Viola odorata), which is a variety native to Europe with purple flowers and a sweet aroma. There are many other varieties of violets, however, that also have different aromas and can be used as ingredients in cooking.

Why Use Violets in Cooking?

Violets have a subtle, sweet flavor with a hint of bitterness. To many, the taste is reminiscent of black licorice, but less intense. This makes them an intriguing ingredient that can be used to add a different flair to a wide range of dishes.

Violets are often used in desserts and puddings, but they also work well in savory dishes. They pair nicely with pork and fish, and they can be a lovely addition to salads or other fresh vegetable dishes. Violets also contain many health benefits that make them a worthy ingredient to consider adding to your cookbook. Their vitamin C and many other antioxidant properties make them a great source of immune system support.

They also contain iron and fiber, which can help to promote heart health. Violets are also a good source of manganese, a mineral that is important for energy metabolism. Plus, they’re low in calories, making them a great choice for those looking to incorporate more nutrition into their diet without taking in excess calories.

How to Grow Violets for Cooking and Eating

If you want to experiment with violets in the kitchen, you can start growing them at home. Violets thrive in damp areas, so they can be easily cultivated in a garden or in pots on a balcony. You can also take advantage of violet’s ability to grow in a wide range of temperatures by growing them indoors in the winter months.

Violets can be propagated from two different ways: from cuttings or from seeds. Cutting a healthy stem from a violet plant and placing it in potting soil will eventually grow new plants. Therefore, if you have a violet that you particularly enjoy, you can take a cutting and grow more of them. This is a great option for those who have a large area to cultivate violets or want to create a large supply for cooking.

Violets can also be grown from seeds. You can purchase seeds online or at a local gardening store and then simply sow them in soil and wait for them to sprout and grow. This option may be better for those with limited space or for gardeners who are new to cultivating plants.

5 Tasty Ways to Enjoy Violets in Your Kitchen

  • Tossed into salads: Violets can be a wonderful addition to salads, especially when you want to offset the flavor of a heavier salad dressing. The leaves complement a wide range of salad ingredients, and they are especially delicious with avocado and citrus fruits.
  • Added to fresh water: Violets have long been used in aquaria because they are low maintenance and provide a lovely scent to the water. You can easily add them to your fish tank by placing a few stems of violets in a decorative bowl; the fish will enjoy the scent, and you will benefit from the aroma.
  • Teas: Violets can be used to make both herbal teas and tisanes. The leaves can be steeped in hot water with other herbs, such as chamomile or mint, to make an aromatic tea that can soothe the nerves after a long day.
  • Vinaigrettes: Violets make an excellent addition to vinaigrettes because of their bold flavour. Their taste can be paired with a wide range of ingredients, including balsamic vinegar, honey, oils, citrus fruits and herbs.
  • Puddings and desserts: Violets make an excellent garnish for puddings and desserts. Their flavour can be enhanced by pairing them with other strong ingredients, such as chocolate, honey, coffee or citrus fruits. Alternatively, you can use them to make violet syrup, which is delicious in beverages or over crêpes.

Bottom line

Violets are a unique herb with many health benefits that make them a worthy ingredient to consider adding to your diet. Their subtle flavor is best used in desserts and puddings, but they can also be used to make vinaigrettes and teas.

Violets make for a beautiful garnish and can be used to enhance the flavor of many sweet dishes. If you want to try a new herb in the kitchen, violets make a lovely addition to many recipes. And since they are low in calories, you can enjoy them guilt-free!

*NOTICE: Articles in this publication are not meant to be used as a guide for medical treatment. These articles gather existing information about herbs, herbal remedies, and mushrooms for health and consumption. Hundreds of years of use of herbs for healing is gathered and published to help people to select alternative solutions to health conditions or to live a more healthy lifestyle.

Allergies and existing conditions can be exacerbated by herbs or mushrooms, so care must be taken in using remedies in these articles. Consult a physician or dietician if desired before using herbal remedies discussed here.**

  • Note: Some links to products or services in this article may be affiliate links and result in income to the author.

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