cooking with edible flowers

It is starting to look like spring! Daffodils are blooming and the grass is turning green. This weekend was incredible: mild temperatures, sunshine and a light breeze make me a happy lady. I hope you all got out to enjoy the weather.

Last week, we talked about edible flowers. Today is a continuation of that discussion. Please see last week's blog for important information when cooking with flowers. First, let's talk about preparing the flowers.  Shake each flower gently to dislodge any excess pollen, dirt or insects. Remove the pistils and stamens. Wash the flowers thoroughly but gently so the flowers are not damaged, and lay out to dry, avoiding exposure to direct sunlight. Don't cut the flowers away from the greenery or white base until just before cooking or serving. Note: you need to remove the pistils and stamens before using, as the pollen detracts from the flavor of the flower. Also, many people suffer from allergies and could have an allergic reaction if this is not done first. Always remember less is more when cooking with flowers.

Day lilies: The petals are edible, and their flavor is described as sweet with a mild vegetable flavor. Day lilies can be stuffed or used in salads and can even be used in desserts (take care to remove the petals from the bitter white base). Day lilies are especially beautiful on a frosted cake. Note: day lilies should be eaten in moderation to avoid stomach upset.

English daisy: While the flowers are edible, they are slightly bitter and don't taste very good. However, daisies make a beautiful garnish in sorbets, salads, desserts, antipasto, or appetizers.

Gladiolus: The petals can be tossed in salads or cooked like day lilies. You can also use glads as a "bowl" for sauces, dressings or even dessert mousse.

Lavender: The blooms taste sweet and flowery and can be used in desserts (especially wonderful with chocolate cake), as a garnish and in soups or stews, and even in breads, biscuits or scones. Note: DO NOT consume lavender oil unless it is specifically listed as food grade. Perfume grade oils, like the ones found in health food stores, are perfume grade, meaning the plant has been sprayed with pesticides and the oil has been cut with inedible chemicals. Young Living is my preferred brand.

Marigolds: Only the petals are edible, but marigolds are an inexpensive replacement for saffron. Spicy, tangy and peppery, the brilliant yellows and oranges add beautiful color to soups, salads, pasta, rice.

Nasturtiums: Probably the most common edible flower, nasturtium blossoms are described as slightly peppery and similar to watercress. The seed pods can be pickled and used in recipes as a substitute for capers. The blooms can be stuffed, used as garnish or in salads, and the leaves are fantastic in salads

Pansies: The entire flower is edible, and the flavor is described as slightly grassy. Pansies are wonderful in soups, sauces, salads (even fruit salad!), or as garnishes anywhere you'd like.

Roses: All rose petals are edible and taste slightly apple-y.  Darker blooms have a more pungent flavor. Roses can be used in teas, breads, jellies, in salads, or as a garnish on cheese trays, appetizer platters or desserts. Note: miniature roses can be frozen in ice cubes and floated in champagne or punch.

Violets: Both the flowers and the leaves are edible and have a sweet, flowery flavor. Young leaves and flowers are a beautiful addition to salads and can be cooked like spinach. As with many other blooms, the flowers are an elegant and beautiful garnish, especially on frosted cakes and look beautiful floated in a punch bowl.

Here are a few links to recipes for cooking with flowers. Enjoy!

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/squash-blossoms-stuffed-with-ricotta-354966
http://www.seasonalchef.com/recipes/squash-blossom-recipes/
http://www.marthastewart.com/350345/sugared-flowers
http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/kitchen-assistant/10-dishes-featuring-edible-flowers/nasturtium-salad-recipe

 

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