For many years, flowers have been considered as a romantic gift for a loved one, but did you know that some varieties are in fact edible?
In the last ten years, edible flowers have gone from the garden and into cuisine and are now used in countless restaurants worldwide. In some eateries, edible flowers are now seen as the equivalent to parsley!
Nasturtiums and pansies are probably the most commonly used flowers and can often be found in the fresh herb section in a variety of grocery stores.
Buying edible flowers can however be a little on the expensive side and once purchased, they should ideally be consumed within the same day. If not, they risk losing both their texture and flavour.
Nasturtiums are seen as the most readily perceived edible flower and are often used as a garnish to salads. This particular flower comes in the shape of a vivid orange or scarlet hue, which certainly works to brighten up greens. Their unique flavour however is what makes these flowers so popular. Once in your mouth, they inject a certain unique essence, which involves a sweet substance followed by a peppery aftertaste.
Pansies are another popular choice and come in a wide variety of colours. Prior to being used in cuisine, the pistils and stamens must be removed. The fragrance and taste varies throughout, and the blue flowered pansies tend to be much more delicate in flavour. Pansies are often used to decorate an assortment of cakes; this can be anything from a simply styled occasion cake to an extravagant wedding cake.
Despite dandelions being perceived as weeds, these flowers are in fact edible when young. These flowers are often cooked prior to being served, as if not they can taste a little bitter. A famous American recipe involves dipping the entire flower in an egg white and then in cornmeal. Once this process has been completed, the flower is then fried. This takes the bitterness out of the flower and makes it taste a little like a mushroom.
Calendulas take the nickname of ‘poor man’s saffron’. This is because the orange and yellow petals can in fact be used just like the saffron spice. Chopping them and cooking them in oil is a great tip, especially if you wish to bring both the colour and flavour out of the flower.
5. Squash Blossoms
Squash blossoms offer a unique yet mild vegetable flavour, which is very similar to that of zucchini and yellow squash. All of the variations of squash blossoms are edible; these include the likes of acorn and patty pan squash. Such a flower is extremely popular in Mediterranean cuisine and they are often seen stuffed with both flavoursome breadcrumbs and ricotta cheese.
6. Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem Marigolds
The only edible marigolds come in the shape of ‘tagetes tenuifolia’. This particular flower allows for a sharp, citrusy, tarragon flavour. Marigolds are a great addition to an otherwise subtle dish as they work to add a little spice to the ensemble.
Despite its vivid blue hue, borage in fact tastes very similar to cucumber. The leaves of this particular flower are often placed in both salads and sauces. Some even place the flowers in ice cubes, which certainly adds a little interest to a variety of drinks.
8. Scented Geraniums
The best thing about this flower is the diversity of flavours, which range from lemon, to nutmeg, to rose. Their sweet scent and flavour make them the perfect addition to a variety of desserts including both sorbets and ice creams.
Once the petals have been separated from the calyx and the base, carnations offer a clove-like flavour. The petals are often added to jellies, spices, salads and cordials.
10. Garland Chrysanthemum
This flower is a popular choice in Asian cuisine and the delicate leaves can be prepared in many ways. These include steaming, frying and boiling the leaves and once prepared, they are often served instead of greens. Many will be more familiar with the chrysanthemum petals, which can be brewed into a desirable tea. The flavour of the petals also makes a great accompaniment to a variety of lamb dishes.
To enjoy your own home cooked flower dishes, checkout these flower recipes.
Filed under: General on June 11th, 2012
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