It is becoming extremely popular again to adorn our dishes with flowers. Pretty in theory, potentially dangerous in practise. It is wise to know which of the flora we can consume and what we should avoid.
Below is a list of edible flowers and their uses. Many cut flowers have been sprayed with insecticides and fungicides so avoid using the store bought bunches in your cooking. You should buy them separately and wash thoroughly before use, just in case.
Calendula (Marigold)– sometimes called ‘Poor Man’s Saffron’ has pretty petals and makes a wonderful addition to salads. Can be added, like saffron, to soups, pastas, spreads and rice dishes for colour.
Carnations – Cut away from white base and use in salads. Can be steeped in wine, has been used to make Chartreuse. The petals can be candied (see below) for decorative desserts.
Chrysanthemum – they should be blanched first and and then used in salads. They have a slight peppery taste and can be used in stirfrys also.
Dandelions – Commonly used as a tea, it has a sweet honey flavour. Great raw or cooked. Toss in salads or over rice dishes.
Apple Blossoms – Floral flavour and aroma. Looks amazingly pretty candied.
Orange Blossoms – The flower water is commonly used in middle Eastern cooking.
Roses – The flavours are generally fruity. All roses are edible. Great for garnishing desserts and salads and beautiful for making rose water, syrups and jellies.
Sunflower – Bitter-sweet flavour. Use like chrysanthemums in salads and such.
Violets and Lavender – Lend a sweet flavour to salads or desserts. They can be candied also to make any home cook look like a pastry chef. Add to ice cubes for a summer twist.
Chamomile – Commonly used to make a calming tea and has a sweet apple-like flavour.
Fine or castor sugar
Wash all flowers thoroughly. Let dry naturally or gently pat dry. Dip in egg whites and roll in sugar. Lay on baking tray, lined with baking paper. Let to dry. Can dry in oven on low. Store in fridge for a few weeks.
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