WHICH FLOWERS ARE EDIBLE?
It's lovely having the Spring flowers out in my garden. As well as violets, we have a lovely display of freesias. They are the most beautiful pale pink, deep pink and clear yellow and they last beautifully in a vase, but I still hanker after the simple, less flamboyant and very much more scented "old" freesias. I might have to ask someone nicely if I can dig up one of their clumps. The people who have clumps of old-fashioned, scented freesias often have large quantities of them. The kind of freesias that scent the whole room if you bring just a few inside!
It must be because I have been enjoying seeing some flowers out in the garden that I thought that this week I would have a bit of a talk about edible flowers. Chances are that if you visit an upmarket restaurant, you are likely to be served a salad made up not only of salad greens, but also including the prettiest petals and edible flowers. It isn't something that we have to leave to the grand chefs - we can have edible flowers at home too! Flowers can be crystallised and used as decorations on cakes and desserts, and fresh flowers or flower petals can used as a garnish, or added to salads. Some of the prettiest flowers are also very easy to grow and found in many gardens.
The pretty, star-shaped flowers of Borage are edible and are such a pretty addition to a plate.
Borage flowers can also be frozen in ice cubes for adding to summer drinks, and look delightful in salads. And Borage also comes in white!
Another old favourite is nasturtium. The leaves and the flowers of the nasturtium are edible, with a peppery flavour. The flavour of the flowers is milder and they add a wonderful splash of colour. Calendula petals make another colourful addition and violas are edible and very, very pretty. When adding flowers or flower petals to a salad, they are best added after the salad is dressed. Sprinkle them on top of the salad just before serving so that the delicate petals are not damaged.
Chive flowers are another edible flower that is commonly available in the garden. Chives add a pretty splash of colour. You can either sprinkle the petals individually or use the whole flower. I even found a recipe for making tempura chives flowers. Pick the flower, leaving a long stem. Dip the flower head into tempura batter and deep fry, holding the stem with tongs. Serve with a dipping sauce. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I will this summer!
There are a few tips to keep in mind when using edible flowers, the most important of which is to make sure the flower you are planning to eat is actually edible! Make sure it is safe to eat before doing so. Check with a reliable source.
Grow your own - that way you can be sure that the flowers you are using are chemical free - don't pick flowers from the side of the road as they have been exposed to exhaust fumes and may have been sprayed.
To harvest your flowers, pick them early in the morning when the water content is high, wash them gently in cool water, and place them on layers of damp paper towels in a covered plastic container in your refrigerator. Use them as soon as possible, within 24 hours.
If you have allergies, exercise caution before consuming any flowers.
Edible flowers are a fun addition to your garden - you may even find that some of your old favourites, already growing in your garden can also be used as an edible flower! Visitors to our house are often presented with a Day Lily to munch on, to their great bewilderment - presented to them by my other half, who has discovered that they are edible. (They taste quite nice!) If you want some ideas for edible flowers, you can click here. We have also introduced a new selection of edible flowers this year.
I hope you are enjoying Spring and getting some time out in your garden!