Visit a flower garden and your senses are immediately rewarded.You enjoy the sight of the flowers’ colors, their shapes and their intricate designs. You smell their fragrances. You feel the varied textures of their petals. But what about their sense of taste? Can you also find pleasure in the taste of flowers? In some countries people have enjoyed the flavor of edible flowers for centuries. If you have one of the following available in your flower or vegetable garden, may be you too would enjoy the experience.
The Romantic Rose
Around the world the rose is probably the best known and the most appreciated flower. Besides the primary species, there are thousands of man-made hybrids. Since flavor is affected by such factors as soil and temperature, it is advisable to taste a petal of the rose or any other flower before you decide to use the flower as food.
The list of dishes that can be enriched by roses is practically endless. Try them in salads, maybe with some mild cheese and chopped nuts. Use smashed petals of red roses as an extract ingredient in your favorite sauce to add flavor and color. And what about giving your spaghetti the final touch of rose petals cut into strips? Roses will also enhance the flavor of ice cream and your favorite beverage.
The Squash Blossom
The squash blossom(Curcubila pepo) was used as food in Americas, back in the 16th century. It seems that native Americans used to eat only male flowers (those grown on long and slender stems) in order to allow female flowers (those with a very small squash behind them) to reproduce. In soups, the mild flavor of squash blossoms goes well with olive oil, tender corn and the squash itself. You can also stuff the flowers with a mixture of cheese, onion and herbs. Then close the end, and dip the blossoms in an egg mixture of whisked egg whites to which yolks have been added. Finally dip the blossoms in bread crumbs, deep-fry them,and enjoy their unique flavor!
The Colorful Garden Pansy
Bicolored or triclored garden pansies (Viola wittrockiana) have characteristic dark spots on the petals ,which give them an unusual appearance. According to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica , the garden pansy is usually thought to be a cultivated form of the wild pansy. This wild flower is also edible, but according to the book-From Garden to Palate, it may be toxic in large amounts. It greatly enhances the flavor and appearance of vegetable and fruit salads.
The Vivacious Daylily
Daylilies (genus Hemerocallis) whose colors range from yellow to red, have long been used in the kitchen. This flower, lightly cooked, can be served as a vegetable. Another possibility is to combine its petals with ingredients of your choice to make a light paste and then fry it. Garnish it with an entire flower.
Some Other Edibles
The yucca flower (genus Yucca), which grows especially in arid or semiarid climates, is rich in vitamins and calcium. Eat only the petals; you may have to give them a light boil to take away any bitterness. Lemon blossoms (Citrus limon), orange blossoms (Citrus sinensis) and the mint flowers (genus Mentha) are excellent additions to beverages, salads and desserts.
These are not the only edible flowers, but thoroughly investigate the edibility of any others before eating them.
- Sweet flowers for beverages: Place a petal or a small flower in each compartment of your ice-cube tray before pouring in bottled or filtered water. Freeze as usual. Use these ice cubes in your favorite beverage (Adapted from Herb Culture)
- Candying Flowers: Whisk an egg white, and paint a fine coating onto each clean, dry flower, using a fine paint brush. Be sure to cover all the petals completely. Using a fine sieve, carefully sprinkle superfine sugar over the petals. Shake off excess, and lay the flowers out to dry for several hours.
- Some flowers are poisonous. Identify the edible ones positively. When in doubt,do not eat them.
- Do not eat any flower that has been treated with pesticides or any other chemical (this would often be true of flowers bought from florists, garden centers, and some nurseries). Eat only flowers grown organically and far from roadways.
- Flowers should not be eaten by people who have asthma or a plant related allergy.
- Like fruits and vegetables, flowers must be washed and disinfected, especially when they are to be eaten raw.
Photo. Steve Buissinne