You Eat Edible Flowers?
Are they novelty, or do they actually contribute more than visual effect? let’s have a look see.
Here is a little look at a few flowers that offer more than a pretty picture.
Hibiscus plants produce large, ornate blossoms that usually grow in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Hundreds of hibiscus species exist, but the most popular edible variety is known as roselle or Hibiscus sabdariffa.
Hibiscus flowers can grow as large as 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and are found in a wide array of colors — including red, white, yellow and various shades of pink.
Although sometimes grown for strictly ornamental purposes, hibiscus is also well known for its culinary and medicinal applications. You can eat the flower straight from the plant, but it is usually used for tea, relishes, jam or salads.
Many cultures drink hibiscus tea for its medicinal properties. Some studies indicate that hibiscus may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, although more research is needed to better understand how hibiscus can support a healthy heart.
Dandelions are best known as stubborn garden weeds. However, they happen to double as a highly nutritious edible flower.
Dandelions have small blossoms — roughly 1–1.5 inches (2–4 cm) in diameter — with many tiny, bright-yellow petals. They supply various plant compounds known to have powerful antioxidant properties.
Interestingly, the flowers are not the only part of dandelion that can be eaten. In fact, every part of this so-called weed can be enjoyed — including its roots, stems and leaves.
There are endless options for eating dandelion. The flowers can be eaten raw, either alone or tossed into a salad. They may be breaded and fried or used to make jelly and wine.
The roots are often steeped to make tea, while the greens may be consumed raw as a salad or a sandwich topping. They can also be cooked in stews, casseroles or any other dish that calls for hearty greens.
Nasturtium is a culinary favorite because of its brightly colored blossoms and unique, savory flavor.
Both the leaves and flowers of nasturtium are edible and may be enjoyed cooked or raw. They feature a peppery, slightly spicy flavor profile, although the blossoms themselves are milder than the leaves.
The funnel-shaped flowers are typically bright orange, red or yellow. They make a beautiful garnish for cakes, pastries and salads.
The leaves are round and resemble small lily pads. They’re tender enough to be used as salad greens or blended into pesto.
Nasturtium is not only a versatile and eye-catching ingredient but also nutritious — containing a variety of minerals and health-promoting compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
NOW THE FUN STUFF
Here is a list of flowers often used in baking and pastry, there is a short procedure for crystallizing flowers at the end.
Borage (Borago officinalis) has lovely cornflower blue star-shaped flowers. Lovely in punches, lemonade, gin and tonics, sorbets, chilled soups, cheese tortas, and dips.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) has pretty petals in golden-orange hues. Sprinkle them on soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads
Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad.
Scented geranium (Pelargonium species) flowers come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels. Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) flowers look beautiful and taste good too in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams. Lavender lends itself to savory dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces.
Marigold (Tagetes species) petals can be sprinkled on salads, open-faced sandwiches, herb buttes, pasta or rice, and steamed vegetables before serving.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) come in varieties ranging from trailing to upright and in brilliant sunset colors with peppery flavors. Use entire flowers to garnish platters, salads, cheese tortas, open-faced sandwiches, and savory appetizers.
Roses (Rosa species) in miniature varieties can garnish ice cream and desserts, or larger petals can be sprinkled on desserts or salads. Freeze them in ice cubes and float them in punches also. Crystallized petals or entire miniature roses are quite lovely.
Violets (Viola odorata) were my grandmother’s favorite flower. I like to eat the tender leaves in salads and use the flowers to beautifully embellish desserts and iced drinks. Related flowers, Johnny jump-ups or violas, and pansies now come in colorful purples and yellows to apricot and pastel hues. Freeze them in punches to delight children and adults alike. All of these flowers make pretty adornments for frosted cakes, sorbets, or any other desserts, and they may be crystallized as well.
Lightly whisk some egg white and use a small fine brush to completely cover the flower petals and chalice. Sprinkle the flower with superfine granulated sugar.
The sugar can be colored to match the flower by mixing in a little petal dusting powder.
Shake off any excess sugar and dry the flowers completely. Small ones can be left to dry on absorbent paper (i.e. kitchen roll). Larger flowers, such as roses, wrap a piece of wire around the stem, and dry hanging upside down from a glass or other suitable item to avoid squashing the petals.
Cheers, and happy culinary gardening!