Feast on Flowers

September 18th, 2015

Have you been amazed by the subtle fragrance and taste of our flower salads? We also use flower petals fresh, or crystallise them with sugar for decoration, or dry them as garnish. But that’s not all: how about flower butter for freezing; steeping flowers in oil or vinegar for dressings? You can freeze flowers in ice to make ice buckets, or add petals to ice trays for pretty cubes in drinks such as iced tea.  You can blend flowers into sugar for flavoured sugars, or in a sugar syrup  for cocktails, mocktails, cordials or jellies. Our fruit popsicles in summer have become a favourite: with fresh fruit and edible flowers so that each individual lolly turns into a beauty of its own.

Edible Flowers

Which flowers are edible? Please check. Also check for insects on the petals and allow them to stand a while after picking to make sure the bugs are gone. On warm days, gather flowers in the early morning or mid afternoon after the dew has gone and the petals have opened up. Clip flower stems diagonally with sharp garden shears and dip them immediately into cold water. Keep in a cool place. Eating and cooking with flowers can be traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures. In Britain, edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era.

White Edible Flowers

Here are some of our favourites:

  1. CALENDULA These marigolds, also known as poor man’s saffron, have a spicy, tangy and peppery flavour that can taste bitter. Sprinkle on soups, pasta and salads, or add to butter.
  2. DAY LILY Eat in moderation. Slightly sweet, with a mild vegetable flavour – a combination of baby marrow and asparagus. Great in salads and beautiful for cakes. The white base is bitter – be sure to remove it.
  3. NASTURTIUM Blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavour. Leaves are peppery and add a tang to salads. Great for garnish.
  4. ROSEMARY The flower is milder than the leaf. Use with meats and seafood, or in a sorbet, dressings and salad.
  5. ROSE Its flavour depends on type, colour and soil. It sports a subtle undertone of mint to spice, strawberry, apple. Remove bitter white portion of petals. Lovely for salads, syrup, jellies, perfumed butter and sweet spreads.
  6. PANSY Slightly sweet green or grassy flavour. Petals are mild and the whole flower has a green overtone. Suitable for salads, garnish, dessert, drinks or summer soups.
  7. WATERBLOMMETJIE The texture of the flowers is like a miniature artichoke, but the taste is subtle, say green beans with a hint of lemon. The perfume is a surprise.
  8. GARLIC CHIVES Part of the Allium family, all parts of the plant are edible. The taste ranges from mild onion to garlic and strong stuff in the flowering seeds.
  9. GERANIUM Depending on the variety, and the colour of the petals, the flavour can be citrusy, spicy or rose-flavoured. Good for desserts, salad and drinks. The citronella variety is not edible.
  10. CLOVE/PINKS Miniature member of the carnation family with a light clove nutmeg scent. Add to a salad for colour, or  steep in wine.
  11. BORAGE Lovely blue star-shaped flower with a cool cucumber taste. Ideal for drinks, sorbet, chilled soups and dips.
  12. ELDERFLOWER Flowers are creamy in colour with a sweet scent. Don’t wash them, as this will remove the fragrance. All parts of this plant except the berries and flowers are toxic. Elderflower can also be cooked in a light champagne batter and then dusted with icing sugar and served with vanilla and elderflower ice cream.
  13. ROCKET The flowers are used in salads with the leaves and have a light piquant flavour. Spicy, peppery with a mild flavour on young leaves that intensifies as they mature. Very Italian.
  14. VIOLA Sweet and perfumed. Perfect for salads, drinks and pretty adornments for cakes and pastries. Heart-shaped leaves are edible and, when cooked, resembles spinach.
  15. THYME The flowers have a milder flavour than the leaves. Use flowers in drinks, chilled soups and to garnish cakes.

 

Comments

  1. Nicolene Mans says:

    Wonderful article !!! Will try this!

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