Just eat your Flowers!

How about instead of saying, “Finish your vegetables” we say “Eat your Flowers”?

Flowers are not just pretty decorations across the world, flowers signify many things—in some cultures they represent abundance, others purity, beauty, divinity, romance, wealth, enlightenment and even knowledge.

Like fruits, vegetables, spices, leaves and nuts, flowers too are part of nature’s roster of nutrition providers to humans. History shows us that flowers have been used for therapeutic purposes, for balancing of tastes, fragrance and even improve aesthetic appeal of a dish. 

Edible flowers are a group of flowering plants that can be consumed safely and are most often used to garnish or enhance the appearance and flavor of various foods. The petals or the entire flower can be placed into, around, or on foods for the desired results. As another alternative, the petals can be candied and served as a sweet addition with different types of food.

The strong color and scent that comes from edible flowers can really add a wow factor to a dish.

A few of the common varieties that are grown for use as Edible Flowers include: begonia, calendula (pot marigold), carnation, cornflower, chrysanthemum, daylily, dill, scented geranium, gladiola, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, Johnny jump-up, lilac, miniature or wild rose, nasturtium, pansy, sweet pea, tuberous begonia, and violets. Some of the common herb, vegetable or fruit flowers include: anise hyssop, arugula, basil, calamint, chamomile, dill, flowering thyme, garlic chive blossom, lavender wand, orange, peach and plum blossoms, sage blossom, and squash blossom.

Chrysanthemums

the chrysanthemum is a particularly popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Where the flowers are used for various purposes, including making sweet drinks, steep in candy, or use as cake decoration. While in China the leaves are steamed or boiled and eaten as greens. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Carnation petals are one of the secret ingredients that have been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Nasturtiums

The nasturtium, coming from southern and central America, is fully edible. With its bright flowers not only offering a cheery accompaniment to your salad, but also adding a notable peppery taste. The flowers are also high in vitamin C and lutein, and the seeds can be used as a condiment.

Nasturtium is known for its savory, peppery flavor. Its blossoms and leaves are nutritious and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Pansy

Although commonly used for ornamental purposes, pansies make a colorful and nutritious addition to a variety of deserts and salads. Loved for its range of bright colors and sweet rounded petals. Pansies have a slightly grassy—even minty—flavor, so they work well in herb-flavored summer

Gladiolus

Flowers (anthers removed) have a nondescript flavor (taste vaguely like lettuce) but make lovely receptacles for sweet or savory spreads or mousses. Toss individual petals in salads.

Hibiscus

 Hibiscus flowers are large, colorful blossoms that grow in warm climates. The flowers can be eaten raw but are often used to make herbal tea. Some research suggests that hibiscus may have a positive impact on cholesterol and blood pressure.

Hibiscus flowers have a Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones. Use slightly acidic petals sparingly in salads or as garnish.

Hundreds of hibiscus species exist, but the most popular edible variety is known as roselle or Hibiscus sabdariffa.

Lilac

 The flavor of lilacs varies from plant to plant. Very perfume-y, slightly bitter. Has a distinct lemony taste with floral, pungent overtones. Great in salads.

Roses

Flavor reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. Sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruit to mint to spice. All varieties of roses are edible, but the ones with the sweetest fragrance are likely to have the most flavor. Rose petals can be used to infuse liquids with flavor or added to sugar or butter to boost your favorite recipes. 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. Petals can be used in syrups, jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads.

While roses have a strong floral scent, their flavor is quite subtle and fruity..

Zucchini Blossoms

The bright yellow flowers of the courgette or zucchini plant have a delicate and slightly sweet taste. Enjoy them the classic way stuffed with herbs and cheese–or on a pizza.

Note: If you’re picking straight from a garden, stick to eating the male flowers so that the squash plants still grow.

Lavender

Sweet and slightly perfumed-tasting, lavender works well when the buds are sprinkled in champagne and cocktails and over desserts like chocolate cake. Alternatively, try it in a lavender peach crisp served with vanilla ice cream.

Sage Flowers

With their soft, yet sweet-savory flavor and beautiful color, sage flowers add dimension to a variety of dishes. For summer, pair them with lemon and other garden treats in a Popsicle for a surprisingly refreshing treat.

Violets

Violets, which come in a range of pastel and vibrant colors, have a sweet and floral taste, making them a perfect companion for everything from salads to iced drinks. They are particularly beautiful when crystallized and used to top frosted cakes and other desserts.

Important! Don’t necessarily try this at home…

It’s worth remembering that some plants and flowers are inedible or even poisonous. And that even edible flowers should be approached with a degree of caution, with some having rather less desirable effects if consumed in sufficient quantities.

Any flowers that are intended for consumption should also be fresh and organically grown. When cooking with or serving edible flowers, clean them by washing them gently in a large bowl of cold water and letting them air dry on a paper towel. Use them immediately or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.

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