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Edible Flowers


By Jennifer Wickes

Have you ever been to a restaurant where they have served you a beautiful salad with flower petals scattered around the plate? Or maybe you have had a cake decorated with flowers on top? Perhaps you have visited a Tea Room and were served flower syrup. Edible flowers are the new rage in haute cuisine. The look is elegant; yet preparing flowers for eating is simple and fun to do.

The amazing part to edible flowers is that in spite of it being the new rage, eating flowers has been going on for centuries. The first mention of people consuming flowers was as far back as 140 BC! Did you realize that broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and broccoflower are all flowers? Or that the spice saffron is the stamen from the crocus flower? Capers are unopened flower buds to a bush native in the Mediterranean and Asian nations.

In regions such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe and India, floral waters such as rosewater and orange flower water are used to flavor candies to meats to beverages! France has a spice mixture known as "Herbes de Provence" which has dried lavendar flowers in it. North Africa has an herbal mixture too, which contains rosebuds and lavendar. The green liqueur, Chartreuse, contains carnations.

There are a few cautions one should remember before harvesting any flowers:

(a) Do not harvest any flowers that could have been exposed to animal excretement.

(b) Do not harvest any flowers that have had insecticides sprayed on them.

(c) Do not harvest any flowers that have had fertilizers sprayed on them unless specified for food consumption.

(d) Do not harvest any flowers from the side of roads where they have been exposed to trash, carbon monoxide etc.

(e) If you are unsure if it is edible, then do not eat it. Caution is always the best policy.

(f) If you have any allergies, consult your physician before consuming edible flowers.

(g) Do not eat any flowers from florists as they have been sprayed with pesticides.

(h) Do not pick any flowers that show signs of disease or have been eaten by insects.

Some of the more common EDIBLE FLOWERS in your garden:

Angelica
Anise Hyssop
Apple Blossom
Artichoke
Arugula
Bachelor Buttons AKA Cornflower
Banana
Basil
Bee Balm
Borage
Burnet
Calendula
Carnation
Chamomile
Chicory
Chives
Chrysanthemum
Cilantro / Coriander
Citrus
Clover
Cornflower / Bachelor Buttons
Dandelion
Daylily
Dianthus
Dill
Elderberry
English Daisy
Fennel
Freesia
Fuchsia
Gardenia
Garlic
Geraniums
Gladiolas
Hibiscus
Hollyhock
Honeysuckle
Hyssop
Iceland Poppy
Impatiens
Jasmine
Johnny Jump Up
Lavendar
Lemon Verbena
Lilac
Linden
Mallow
Marigold
Marjoram
Mint
Mustard
Nasturtium
Oregano
Okra
Onion
Orange Blossom
Pansy
Passionflower
Pea
Pineapple Sage
Primrose
Radish
Red Clover
Redbud
Rose
Rosemary
Rose of Sharon
Runner Bean
Safflower
Sage
Savory
Scented Geranium
Snapdragon
Society Garlic
Squash Blossom
Sunflower
Sweet Marigold
Sweet William
Thyme
Tuberous Begonia
Tulip
Viola
Violet
Winter Savory
Yucca

Pick your flowers in the morning when their water content is at its highest. Then bathe the flowers gently in a salt-water bath. Immediately drop them in ice water for 1 minute. Dry on a paper towel. For best results, use your flower petals immediately (not the stamen or the stems), or store the whole flower in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight.

Flowers can be used for a multitude of dishes:

from garnishes to salads. Try freezing petals in ice cube trays filled with water for a unique addition to your favorite lemonade or iced tea!

Keep Reading

RECIPES:

CANDIED FLOWERS
1 egg white (please use powdered egg whites to avoid salmonella)
100 proof vodka
superfine granulated sugar
thin artist's paintbrush
violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea, pinks, scented geraniums
wire rack

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add a couple of drops of vodka to help the flowers dry quicker. Using fresh picked flowers, paint each flower individually with beaten egg white using the artist's paintbrush. When thoroughly coated, sprinkle with fine sugar and place on the wire rack to dry. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the touch. They can be stored in an airtight container and put in the freezer for up to a year. A simple bakery cake can be turned into a work of art by garnishing with candies flowers.

Will last approximately 6 months!

Idea: Try a chocolate cake decorated with fresh raspberries and candied rose petals.

FLORAL LIQUEUR
4 cups vodka or brandy
1-cup sugar
1 - 2 cups flowers

Place lightly bruised petals in a jar with vodka or brandy and steep for 2 days. Then, add sugar and steep for 2 weeks, shaking vigorously once or twice a day to let sugar dissolve. Strain and filter into clean decanter.

Ideas:
rose, carnation, lavendar and mint
orange zest and mint
ginger and pear
peaches and lemon verbena
raspberry and lemon balm
use a dry white wine

FLOWER BUTTER
1/2 - 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals
1 lb. sweet unsalted butter

Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Let mix stand for several hours at room temperature, then refrigerate for several days to bring out the flavour. Can be frozen for several months. Wonderful on breads or used in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.

Ideas:
use cream cheese
rose, lavendar or sunflower
add some herbs: basil, thyme, garlic

FLOWER HONEY
1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried petals
1 lb. honey

Add chopped or crushed flowers to honey. Loosely cover jar and place in a pan half full of gently boiling water. Remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove jar from water and let cool to room temperature. Allow jar of honey with flowers to sit for 1 week. Flowers can then be strained out if desired.

Will last indefinitely in a cool dark place.

Uses: Tea, salad dressings, on croissants, scones, muffins and bread.

FLOWER JELLY
2 1/2 cups apple juice OR white wine
1 cup fresh rose petals or scented geranium flowers and leaves
4 cups sugar
1/4 lemon juice
1 - 2 drops food coloring (optional)
3 ounces of liquid pectin
fresh flower petals (optional)

Bring juice or wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and steep until liquid has cooled, then strain out flowers leaving only liquid. Combine 2 cups of this flower infusion with sugar, lemon juice and food coloring. Bring to a boil over high heat and as soon as the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin. Return to a rolling boil, stirring, and boiling for exactly 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let jelly cool slightly and add more flower petals (if desired), then pour into sterilized jars. If petals do not stay suspended, stir jelly as it cools until petals stay in place. Process in hot water bath or seal with paraffin.

Yields: 4 - 5 half pints

FLOWER OIL
1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried flowers
1 qt. vegetable oil

Add flowers to bottle of oil and place in a pan of water. Simmer water with bottle in it gently for at least 30 minutes. Remove from stove and cool. Cover bottle tightly, and let steep a week before using. If dried flowers are used, they may be left in the oil. Fresh flowers should be drained after one week as they lose their color.

Uses: Salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta, stir-frying.

Nasturtium and herb blossom oils are excellent for sautéing.

Rose and carnation oils make nice salad dressings.

FLOWER SYRUP
1-cup water (or rosewater)
3 cups sugar
1/2 - 1-cup flower petals, whole or crushed

Boil all ingredients for 10 minutes, or until thickened into syrup. Strain through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Can be added to sparkling water or champagne for a delicious beverage. Or, it may be poured over fruit, pound cake or pancakes.

An Incomplete List of POISONOUS FLOWERS Commonly Found in the Garden:

Aconite
Anemone
Anthurium
Atamasco Lily
Autumn Crocus
Azalea
Baneberry
Bead Tree
Belladonna
Black Locust
Black Snakeroot
Bloodroot
Boxwood
Buttercup
Butterfly Weed
Caladium
Calla Lily
Carolina Jasmine
Castor Bean
Cherry Laurel
Chinaberry
Christmas Rose
Clematis
Daffodil
Deadly Nightshade
Death Cammus
Delphinium
Dogsbane
Dumbcane
Elephant Ears
False Hellebore
Four O'clock
Foxglove
Gardenia
Gloriosa Lily
Golden Chain Tree
Goldenseal
Heavenly Bamboo
Henbane
Horse Chestnut
Horse Nettle
Hyacinth
Hydrangea
Iris
Ivy
Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Jerusalem Cherry
Jessamine
Jetbead
Jimson Weed
Jonquil
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Laburnum
Lantana
Larkspur
Leopardsbane
Lily of the Valley
Lobelia
Marsh Marigold
May Apple
Mescal Bean
Mistletoe
Monkhood
Morning Glory
Mountain Laurel
Nightshade
Ohio Buckeye
Oleander
Periwinkle
Philodendron
Poinsettia
Poison Hemlock
Potato
Privet
Rhododendron
Rock Poppy
Schefflera
Spring Adonis
Star of Bethlehem
Strawberry Bush
Sweet Pea
Tobacco
Tomato (blooms)
Trumpet Vine
Wahoo
Water Hemlock
Wild Cherry
Windflower
Wisteria
Wolfsbane
Yellow Allamanda
Yellow Oleander

This article was originally published at Suite 101.

© Jennifer A. Wickes
Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cookbook Reviews" and "Cooking With The Seasons", which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet!

 

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