Sunday, April 25, 2010
With the help of a few celebrity chefs more people are being introduced to edible flowers for culinary uses. Certain flowers can be candied ("crystallized flowers"), others look excellent used as a decoration for desserts or used as a garnish for their main entrées. Some of the edible flowers are quite tasty are go a long way in cheering up a boring salad. Following is a list of some of the edible flowers you can use to liven-up your recipes.
• Pansies (Have a very mild flavour. These are used in fruit salads, desserts, green-salads).
• Nasturtiums (It is one of the most common edible flowers. The leaves have a peppery flavour, and the flowers have a milder flavour. Used commonly to add flavour and colour to salads. It is also often used a garnish. Nasturtiums contain vitamin C).
• Apple Blosom (Malus spp.) (These soft pink blossoms have a delicate floral flavour).
• Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) (The lavender blossoms have a pungent floral and lemony flavour). Flowers may be eaten raw, folded into a batter or candied and used as a decoration for desserts).
• Gladiolas (Used in salads or may be cooked).
• Culinary Herbs: (Most of us are well versed at using herbs to enhance the flavour and appeal of many dishes, but many are not aware that the flower often is edible also. Many make an excellent garnish or addition to a salad. Try the blooms from basil, thyme oregano, garlic, chives, sage, dill or alliums).
• Borage (The leaves and flowers have a slight cucumber flavour and are used for iced drinks and salads. Also look great frozen inside of an ice-cube and used to dress up your summer drinks).
• Calendula (Used in salads. May be cooked but tends to take on a strong acrid flavour. Can be used as a saffron substitute.
• Chamomile (Mainly used as a tea but flowers also make a pretty garnish on desserts).
• Violets (Often candied and used for decorations on cakes and desserts. Also used in salads and as a garnish. They have a sweet nectar taste).
• Chrysanthemum (Used in stir-fry and in salads).
• Day lilies (Hemerocallis spp.) The yellow, orange, red buds have a sweet taste and crunchy texture. Used in salads or may be cooked.
• Pink rose (Rosa Rugosa) (Roses add adelicate flavour to sweets but remember to remove the bitter white base of the petal before eating. Roses and rosehips are loaded with vitamin C.
• Dianthus (Have a clove-like flavour and make a pleasant addition to salads and seafood).
• Monarda (Bee balm) (Used as a garnish in salads. Often called Bergamot because of its citrusy flavour similar to the Bergamot Orange Tree, a tablespoon of Bee Balm flowers makes a great addition to the oil when frying white fish or scallops. Their strong flavour also goes well with meat and pork dishes).
• Lavender (Munstead) Lavender flowers add a rich sweet flavour. Add a tablespoon of finely chopped lavender flowers to any sugar or butter cookie recipe or add two tablespoons to any pound cake or white cake. They are also good for butters and cream cheese recipes.
• Dandelion (Dandelion blossoms are high in vitamin A and C; while the leaves are high in iron, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A and C. Fry young buds in butter for a taste of mushrooms. Sprinkle blossoms on your salads or steep the leaves or petals for a nutritious tea).
• Ox-eye daisy
• St. John’s wort
• Mallows (White, Pink, Purple)
• Hens and chicks
• Sun flowers
A few important tips to remember when using edibles flowers for your culinary purposes are:
Just because a flower is classified as an edible does not necessarily mean that it tastes good. Some are quite bitter and better left as a garnish.
Never use store bought flowers for your culinary purposes. They have been sprayed with chemicals that are harmful for your health. Use home grown flowers that have been grown naturally, without the use of chemicals.
Make sure a flower is safe to eat before doing so. Get a good book, talk to a knowledgeable friend, or Google it to make sure the particular plant you are considering to eat is truly safe for human consumption.
If you grow your own edible flowers, harvest them early in the morning when the water content is high, gently wash them in cool water, and place them on layers of damp paper towels in a covered plastic container in your refrigerator. Use them within 24 hours.
Remove pistils, stamens, and seeds from flowers before eating. They tend to taste quite bitter.
Do not eat flowers picked from roadsides due to poisonous car exhaust emissions.
People with allergies should exercise caution before consuming any flowers.
Edible flowers are a fun way to add colour and variety to your deserts, salads and main entrées and next to herbs they are tops as garnishes.