Edible Flowers – Introduction
Edible flowers, or using flowers as food, have had a long and popular tradition dating back to before the birth of the Roman Empire. Some might find the prospect odd, others might find it in poor taste, but nevertheless this is a culinary trend that has been enjoying a spirited revival over the recent years.
There are many benefits to using edible flowers. The first and most obvious is that many of them taste quite delightful and are capable of really bringing out the flavor in a dish. In addition, the blossoms of many plants retain their aromatic smell even when clipped, which can grant your dish a unique and highly enjoyable characteristic. Lastly, the visual appeal of using edible flowers to decorate a meal is difficult to ignore.
Consider, for example, a fresh and delicious garden salad. You can have your salad live up to its name by adding the blossoms of edible flowers, such as pansies or nasturtium, to the other ingredients. Of course, you wouldn’t mix them into the body of the salad, as this would damage the petals beyond recognition. Instead, you’d line the edge of the bowl and decorate the center with a few well-placed blossoms.
This can have the effect of surprising and impressing dinner guest, who normally wouldn’t expect such a thing. That’s why we’ve put together this handy little kitchen guide for you. Before working with edible flowers, it’s best to learn which varieties are safe for consumption and which ones are poisonous enough to bring down an elephant.
Edible Flowers – Safety First
As with all things, safety should be your primary concern when cooking with edible flowers. There are many plant species that can make you sick if you ingest them, and many more that will put a permanent and rather grim end to all future culinary experimentation. Information is your greatest asset when determining safety.
If you aren’t certain about whether or not a particular flower is safe to eat, and can’t find a reliable source of information, your best bet is to simply move on and pick something you know is ok to eat. Something might look tasty, but contain the equivalent poison of a thousand snake bites. This makes it very important to learn what can and can’t be used in the kitchen.
Edible Flowers – Recommendations
It’s very likely that you have already enjoyed eating flowers without even realizing it. For example, did you know that broccoli and cauliflower are both considered flowers? These herbal children’s nightmares are the flowering heads of their respective plants. They just look different and have a different texture from a rose or tulip.
We’ve put together a list of a few common garden flowers that you can enjoy safely. It’s a great idea to include these as decoration and flavor enhancements on many meals:
· Alliums – Also known as the family of “flowering onions,” alliums come in a wide variety of types. You are surely familiar with onions, garlic and chives, which are some of the most common. The edible flowers are often stronger than the leaves and stems of these plants, as are the buds. They have a taste similar to the roots, which we commonly add to our meals.
· Dandelions – Member of Daisy family, dandelion flowers are best picked while young, and just before eating to maintain freshness. They have a sweet, honey-like flavor. Mature flowers are bitter and less suitable for consumption. Dandelion wine is popular, if somewhat less common than a bottle of the old vineyards. Note that the milk-like sap in the leaves and stem are poisonous, and can cause bad indigestion.
· Nasturtiums – These are some of the most common edible flowers. The blossoms have a sweet, almost spicy taste that some consider akin to watercress. You can use the entire flower as a garnish for salads and other meals, making them one of the best choices.
· Pansies – The petals of these common garden annuals are mild when eaten, but if you consume the entire flower you can enjoy a taste much like wintergreen. These edible flowers are suitable for salads as a garnish, both for their flavor and elegant appearance.
Edible Flowers – Conclusion
Edible flowers can make the perfect addition to your meal. If you learn to prepare some dishes with these gifts of nature, you can rest assured that family, friends and dinner guests alike will reevaluate your cooking in a most positive manner. Learning to prepare edible flowers demonstrates a certain class and taste that is admirable at worst and fantastically flattering at best.
You will enjoy the delivery of elegance that edible flowers bring to your table, which makes them a worthy ingredient. Always remember our culinary safety tips, however, as it is difficult to enjoy tasty meals if your stomach has just tendered its resignation and moved to the Bahamas.
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