What you need to know about edible flowers
Did you know that you could eat some of those pretty flowers in your garden? Better still, even add them to your desserts and cocktails. The art of adding flowers to dishes dates back to ancient Romania, where women included petals in their recipes. The Chinese also have records of flower recipes as old as 3000BC.
However, you can never pluck any flowers for eating, and not the whole flower is edible for most cases. Some flowers could be highly poisonous and could lead you to run for the hospital in a matter of minutes. If you are interested in trying out delicacies added with flowers, here’s a little guide on crucial knowledge you should have.
How do you choose edible flowers from toxic ones?
Firstly, you need to know is that not all parts of the flower are edible. Before you start picking flowers for food, ensure you carry out enough research. The internet has very reliable information, but it would also be great to start with typical edible flowers then progress with time.
The only flowers that are safe for eating are homegrown. If you want to prepare a dish with the flowers, ensure to pluck them in the morning. They are more sweet and fresh before the sun takes a toll on them.
Another thing you should note is to avoid flowers bought from the gift shop or a vendor. The flowers are grown with chemicals and pesticides, which add to durability and turgidness. The chemicals are toxic, hence unfit for human consumption.
Flowers plucked by the paths or roads are also hazardous. They could be affected by lead and other chemicals released by cars and motorbikes. Such flowers also have a lot of unnecessary dust that is such a bother to wash off. It would help if you only trusted flowers from your garden or a friend’s garden.
Finally, avoid flowers that are dried out or discolored for your meals. These types of flowers have no flavor and could be toxic. Always ensure to consult medical assistance before consuming flowers since this could result in a bad case of allergic reactions.
Edible flowers for salads
Flowers apply as a garnish to fresh vegetable salads or some fruit salads. To figure out which flowers to add to the salads, ensure you sample the flavors first. Some flowers and their leaves have spicy flavors, and others are purely sweet.
If you are making a purely vegetable salad, consider adding one or two sweet-tasting flowers to complement the taste of lettuce, onions, or carrots. Examples of flowers with mildly sweet flavors perfect for salads are; Daucus carota(Queen Anne’s Lace), dame’s rocket, daylilies, linden, nasturtiums, pansies, rose petals, and primrose.
Some flowers also have a peppery taste that could blend in perfectly for salads. In contrast, some of their edible leaves are parts of leafy greens in salads. Examples of such flowers are; calendula, chrysanthemums, cilantro, and garlic alliums.
Most flowers with spicy to mildly sweet undertones that could fit quite easily with fruit salads include chervils, violets, tulips, scented geraniums, pineapple Guava, perennial phlox, Johnny-jump-ups, and Impatien wallerana.
Edible flowers for cocktails and refreshments
Some flowers are pretty flavorful and tend to be used to make very delicious refreshments. The petals and storks of some flowers apply, while for some, a flower or two is enough to add just the required amount of flavor to the drinks.
Some of the common herbs used to make juices and cocktails also have flavorful flowers, which work better than their respective herbs. Alternatively, you can also add dome flowers while making ice cubes so that you add some twist to the ordinary glass of water.
The most common way of using flowers on cocktails is by garnishing with petals in cocktail and juice blends, liquor blends, and even wine cocktail blends. Another way you could use flowers is by fermenting them with tap water and sugar, then wait for a few days. When you start to see some fizzing, strain the mixtures and add the solution to cocktails during brunch. You can do this with violets, daylilies, and even rose petals.
The other way you could use flowers in cocktails is by making syrups. Chamomiles, lavender, elderberry, lilacs, and dandelions make flavorful syrups perfectly paired with alcoholic cocktails.
For thousands of years, hibiscus, lavender, jasmine, and chamomile have been part of making refreshing teas. The teas have additional benefits but are also suitable for relaxing and calming effects. Although you can always buy tea bags from the store, try using the flower petals once in a while, and you might never stop. However, only the species Jasminum sambac is edible; the others are highly poisonous.
Edible flowers perfect for baking
Flowers are some of the eccentric additions in baking, from making delicate desserts such as tarts to adding toppings in pizzas and flavor cakes in decoration and whipping cream.
Dandelion flowers add flavor to bread, and also a friend in butter for flavor. Jasmine flowers are added to tarts for aroma, taste, and decoration as well. Lavender is also used to make syrups and some baked desserts as toppings. The gone-to-seed rocket adds a pepper flavor to bread, which is suitable for soups and creams.
Hibiscus flower is excellent for syrups that make a yummy cake. Cornflowers, pelargoniums, violets, pansies, and rose petals make the cake icing sweeter and add flavor to whipping cream when the blends mix.
In conclusion, the art of adding flowers is making a return to the dinner table, as more people yearn for sophistication in their diets. Plants add vitamins and antioxidants to foods and salads while still making the food beautiful and flavorful.
Remember to wash the flowers to remove small insects and dirt before using them. Always remove the pistil and anthers, together with the ovaries, before using flowers. Start small while incorporating flowers in food, as the human body takes time before digesting some flowers fully. Also, research on different flowers, since some have only edible petals, but for some, the entire plant is edible.