Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers - List of edible flowers - Where to find edible flowers - What kind of flowers are edible » Edible FlowersNot exactly a new concept, edible flowers in used in cooking can be traced back to Roman times, and were especially popular in the Victorian era.  Having fallen out of favour for many years, cooking and garnishing with flowers is back in vogue once again. Today, chefs and innovative home cooks alike have taken to garnishing their entrees with flower blossoms for an extra touch of elegance. But, before you try them out yourself, here are some simple guidelines to keep in mind before eating any type of flower:

Never eat any flower unless you are sure about their edibility, if uncertain, consult a reference book on edible flowers before consumption.

For those growing their own edible flowers and pesticides are necessary, use only those products labelled for use on edible crops.

Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centres, as in many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides.

Do not eat flowers picked from the side of the road.

Pistils and stamens are to be removed from the flowers before eating.

Eat only the flower petals of most flowers.

Flowers should be introduced into one’s diet in small quantities, one species at a time. As everyone knows, too much of a good thing may cause problems for your digestive system.

Those suffering from allergies should introduce edible flowers gradually, as they can be aggravated.

Flowers for eating should be picked early in the day and used at their peak for the best flavour. Unopened blossoms, wilted or faded flowers are to be avoided as they may have a bitter or unappealing flavour.

Edible Garden Flowers
Surprisingly sweet, the petals of carnations can b steeped in wine or used as cake decorations or in desserts after cutting away the bitter white base of the flower. Petals add colour to salads or aspics and Carnation petals, one of the secret ingredients have been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Tangy, slightly bitter and ranging in colours from red, white, yellow and orange, they can taste either faint peppery to mildly like cauliflower. You can use them in salads by blanching them first and then scattering them on a salad. Chrysthemum leaves can also be used to flavour vinegar. You must always remember to remove the bitter flower base and use petals only.

Dandelion flowers are sweetest when picked young and just before eating. With a sweet, honey-like flavour, they taste good steamed or tossed in salads.

English Daisy
With a mildly bitter taste, daisies are most commonly used for their looks rather than their flavour. Use the petals as a garnish and in salads.

A sweet, floral flavour with lemon and citrus notes, Lavender flowers not only look beautiful, they taste just as good in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams. Lavender also lends itself to savoury dishes from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Lavender oil is not to be consumed unless one is absolutely certain that it has not been sprayed and is culinary safe.

Radish Flowers
Depending on the variety, radish flowers range from pink, white or yellow in colour with a distinctive, spicy bite and are best used in salads.

Coming in varieties that range from the trailing to the upright, in brilliant sunset colours with peppery flavours, nasturtium blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavour similar to watercress. Its leaves add a peppery tang to salads, while pickled nasturtium seed pods are a less expensive substitute for capers. Use entire flowers to garnish platters, salads, open-faced sandwiches and savoury appetisers.

While the flavour of rose petals depends on type, colour and soil conditions, it is often reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. All roses are edible and the flavour of dark varieties is more pronounced, while the miniature varieties are pretty for garnishing ice cream and desserts, or sprinkle larger petals on desserts or salads. You can also freeze them in ice cubes and float them in punches to add a pretty touch.

High in vitamin C and / or vitamin A, along with other essential nutrients, pick the flowers, rinse and place between damp paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use. Some varieties may last longer if not washed until ready to use, whilst others may be dried and used like dried herbs.

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