Monday, September 1, 2008

Beautiful Edible flowers

Edible flowers are flowers that can be eaten. Just as the leaves and roots of some flowering plants can be eaten; various flowers, which can be used to decorate a room, can also be used in foods and are considered edible, often used as decoration. In addition to immediate consumption, flowers may also be preserved for future use using techniques such as drying, freezing or steeping them in oil. Edible flowers can be used in drinks, jellies, salads, soups, syrups and main dishes.

A sunflower, a popular edible flower.

A sunflower, a popular edible flower.

Common edible flowers

Flower consumption

Some general rules to follow before consuming flowers:

  • If you are unsure if you have picked the correct variety of flower for the recipe, do NOT eat it. Some flowers are toxic and some flowers only become edible after appropriate preparations. There are many sources available to help you identify and properly prepare flowers for consumption.
Miniature pecan muffins topped with crystallized PansiesMiniature pecan muffins topped with crystallized Pansies

Flower slaw featuring shredded cabbage, green onions, toasted almonds, sesame seeds and Pineapple Sage flowers

Stuffed large Nasturtium blossoms

  • As you would with other foods, if you have food or pollen allergies, check with your doctor before consuming flowers to avoid allergic reactions.
  • Always use flowers that have NOT been sprayed with pesticides. To accomplish this, you can either grow your own flowers or if you are purchasing flowers from a commercial grower, ask if pesticides were used in treating the flowers. Make sure the grower knows that you plan to consume the flowers.
  • Do not use damaged or excessively dirty flowers. Check flowers for an overabundance of insects as this may be a sign of unsuitable flowers to consume. Wash flowers thoroughly (but gently) in cool water and dry them on paper towels.
  • Always remember to remove the reproductive organs (pollen area) of the flowers if possible.
  • Just because flowers are edible does not mean you should eat them at every meal. Marigolds and Daylilies for example, should be sensibly consumed.
  • Do not serve edible flowers along with inedible flowers. Some guests may not know the difference and inadvertently eat an inedible flower.

As a flavoring

The pretty blue "starflowers" of Borage can be used as a garnish and have a sweet honey-like taste

The pretty blue "starflowers" of Borage can be used as a garnish and have a sweet honey-like taste

Enjoyment of edible flowers does not have to be seasonal. Flower butter made with flower petals can be frozen for up to three months. Flower oils will also keep for up to three months. These oils can be made with edible flower petals steeped in sunflower oil, olive oil, or other oils for about a week and then removed. Different edible flowers and oils can be used to create unique flavors. Edible flower petals can also be steeped in vinegar for three to four weeks and then removed. The flower vinegar can then be used in dressing or whenever vinegar would normally be used. Edible flowers can also be frozen with water in a standard ice-cube tray. The flower ice-cubes can be left frozen and used in drinks or any other dish that would normally contain ice-cubes. Edible flowers can be blended into sugar for about one week (and then sifted out), leaving the storable sugar flavored for future use. Edible flowers can also be crystallized using egg white and sugar (sugar being a perservative). The candied flowers can be eaten individually or used as a garnish for a cake; and retain their color for months.

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