Herb of the Year 2022: Viola

I love violas – violets, pansies and Johnny-Jump-Ups. Based on Flora’s Dictionary – The Victorian language of herbs and flowers Kathleen Gips, reports:

Johnny-Jump-Ups: Happy Thoughts.

Pansy: gentle and pleasant thoughts; thoughts; love; – You’re taking my thoughts.

Blue violet: love; loyalty, sweetness; loyalty.

White violet: modesty; innocence; sincerity.

Yellow violet: rural happiness.

I love thinking about the meaning of herbs and flowers when designing a menu, so food has more significance because of what herbs and flowers I use.

Growing viola is fairly easy in Michigan. Johnny-Jump-Ups settled in a lot of places so I could share them with my friends. Over the years, I have used them more and more in cooking. Here are some recipes I used.


You should use a clean, sharp knife or clean scissors to harvest edible flowers. It’s worth harvesting in the morning before the sun gets too hot, but after the dew is gone. Cut the stems long enough to be able to absorb the water to keep the flowers fresh. On really hot days, you should bring a container of water to the garden. When cutting, put the flowers in it so that they do not wither. On cooler days, you can put flowers in a cake tin or strainer so it works quickly. Take them in immediately and use one of the following methods to keep the flowers fresh.


It is important that the flowers stay fresh after picking. You don’t want him to go through the work of taking them out and then wither when it’s time to use them. There are several ways to keep your picked flowers fresh:

  1. Place the cut stems in a glass of water either on the counter or in the refrigerator. The flower stalks should be long enough to stay in the water tank.
  2. Put cut flowers in a Ziploc bag. Put the cut stalks in a damp paper towel, fold up the bottom of the towel so that the stalks are between the paper towels, and roll up the sides so the stalks are like a small bouquet. Carefully place it in a Ziploc bag, close the zipper almost completely, and blow air into the bag to help cushion the flowers (as ordered in a blister pack). Then place the bag in the refrigerator.
  3. You can put the short-stemmed flowers in a foam container lined with a damp paper towel (like the ones you get in restaurants for leftovers). Close the lid and store in the refrigerator.


I first saw this recipe in Theresa Loe’s video. I have used it many times and I really enjoy the dark colored pansies as it is transparent on the cooked pasta.

Depending on the size of the flowers, 50-100 pieces of pasta can be made from it.

Wonton or egg roll leather

3 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cold water

Fresh edible flowers (Johnny-Jump-Ups, nasturtium, pansy, sage, etc.)

Fresh herb leaves (sage leaves, lettuce, Italian parsley, coriander, etc.)

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water, mix with a spoon. This will be your “glue”. Apply a layer of cornstarch mixture to the skin of a wonton with a small brush. Carefully place a few leaves and / or flower pedals on the skin. Spread another wonton skin with the cornstarch mixture and place on top of the first skin. Use a rolling pin to remove air bubbles. Cut off the edges with a pastry disc, a chopper or a sharp knife. I like to put a pansy flower in the middle, a Johnny-Jump-Up flower in each corner, and cut them all out with picks a little bigger than the flower.

Place the finished dough squares on a baking sheet and place wax paper between the layers. It can be cooked immediately or refrigerated up to 24 hours before cooking (it can be frozen for up to a week before baking, it can be thawed in the refrigerator 3 hours before cooking). Cooking: Put the dough in a large pot of boiling water and mix gently. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the dough is al dente, which is still firm but overcooked.

Serve hot: Take the dough out of the water, toss with spice butter and serve.

Cold serving: Remove the dough from the water and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Lubricate with oil to prevent it from sticking. Add to the chicken salad and whisk together with an herbal vinaigrette.

Candied leaves and flowers

Candying fresh flowers is another way to preserve them for later use. There are several ways to do this. As the use of raw egg white is no longer recommended, I use egg white powder or meringue powder.

Candies 25-50 flowers, depending on the size of the flowers.

1/2 tablespoon meringue powder

1 / 2-1 teaspoon water

Superfine sugar with white or colored sugar to match the color of the flower

Stir. Leave to stand for 15 minutes and beat again. Apply the mixture to the flowers and leaves with a small brush. Sprinkle with white or colored sugar. We put it on wax paper to dry.

Store in a dry, airtight container when dry. Use it to decorate ice cream, cakes, puddings, cakes or anywhere a beautiful flower can be a nice garnish. Use flowers that complement sweet desserts (pansy, bouncing rose, lilac, rose, honeysuckle, etc.). Shelf life is from 2 weeks to one year.


You can use violet, pansy or Johnny-Jump-Up. Use it for tea breads, cakes, puddings, ice creams, fruit compotes and chilled soups, or pour over ice cream.

Make about 1 / 2-3 / 4 cup syrup

2 ounces fresh violets

6 tablespoons water, bring to a boil

1/2 cup sugar

Put the flowers in a glass jar. Pour boiling water over the flowers, cover and let stand for 24 hours. Filter it. Add sugar and just heat to dissolve the sugar. (The color remains if we do not allow the liquid to boil.)

Cool, bottle and cool. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week or frozen for longer storage.


You can use violet, pansy or Johnny-Jump-Up. It stops in the fridge for about 3 weeks. The rest is stored in the freezer. If for some reason our jam doesn’t shrink, use it for pancakes, ice cream as a syrup, or as a tea flavoring.

Made of 5 (1/2 pint) glass

1 cup wrapped violet

1 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 lemon juice

1 packet of pectin (Sur gel)

Place the violets in a blender with 3/4 cup water and lemon juice. Stir and add the sugar until dissolved. (This solution will turn pink. In a pan, heat 3/4 cup water, stir in the pectin and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Pour this mixture into the blender with the other ingredients, blend for 1 minute. Pour into sterile bottles and seal.


This was inspired by one of Jim Long’s recipes in “Fabulous Herb and Flower Sorbets”.

8-10 (1/2 cup) servings

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup dark purple or violet, loosely packed (remove green goblets)

1/4 cup opal basil leaf

3 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Garnish with fresh violets, pansies or Johnny-Jump-Ups

Put the sugar, violets and basil in a shredder and work until the flowers and herbs have dusted. Bring the water almost to a boil, remove from the heat, add the flower / sugar mixture and mix.

Cover with a lid and allow the mixture to stand until it reaches room temperature (for at least one hour). Filter and press to remove the color from the liquid. Discard solids.

Add the lemon juice and mix. Cool the mixture for one hour, then freeze in a sorbet, ice cream freezer or ice razor pan (shave frozen).

Serve in refrigerated pots (nice wine glasses) and garnish with fresh flowers.

Donna Frawley is the owner of Frawley’s Fine Herbary and the author of “The Herbal Breads Cookbook” and “Our Favorite Recipes.” and the “Book of Edible Flowers.” He also has his own DVD “Cooking with Herbs” and a weekly newsletter. Available at 989-488-0170, frawleyherbs@yahoo.com or www.frawleysfineherbary.com.

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