Feast of Flowers

No longer relegated to centerpieces, edible flowers prove simultaneously gorgeous and delectable.

FlowersScoot over, bees and butterflies. Beyond inhaling, admiring and photographing delicate blooms, try sneaking a bite as fashionable garnish or fully incorporate them into breathtakingly beautiful dishes and drinks. Depending on your floral goals, incredible edibles produce pops of color, fragrance, flavor and nutrition to your haute summer cuisine. Hit refresh!

Prep Goal

Beverages: Gather petals in an infuser for steeping, or muddle to release aroma into tea, juice, lemonade, alcohol or cocktails. For an extra flourish, freeze in ice cube trays and then adorn glasses, from jelly jars to champagne flutes, or float breezily atop punch bowls. Try › Chamomile, elderflower, lavender, rose, violet

Salad, sandwich, soup, grains, dip or cheese: Seize your chance to eat a doctor-recommended colorful diet. Brighten greens or pasta salads; layer inside sandwiches; toss into soups; embellish grains such as rice and quinoa; sprinkle over dips like hummus or yogurt; press into soft cheeses like brie and goat cheese. What’s more, many flowers contain vitamin C. Most flowers, like chrysanthemum, dianthus and viola contain a dose of potassium for heart and muscle health. Lavender contains vitamin A, as well as calcium. Try › Chive and zucchini blossoms, coreopsis, English daisy, nasturtium, viola

Infused oil, vinegar, jam, jelly, honey and simple syrup: Fancify and soak in your favorite staples for a touch of artistic elegance and flavor. To make simple syrup, stir petals into equal parts water and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Try › Basil/chive/linden blossoms, lavender, rose

Stuff, bake, fry, stir-fry or steam: Stuff with herbs and cheese, and then bake. Fry up into fritters, or augment stir-fry. Steam unopened sunflower buds like an artichoke. Try › Daylily, gladiolus, hibiscus, zucchini/squash/pumpkin blossoms

Baked goods, sweets, ice cream: Blend into batter or dough, and then crown dessert tops.
Try › Carnation, lavender, pansy, rose, viola

Candied/sugared: To store a ready supply, preserve flowers’ graceful essence by lightly brushing with egg whites and sprinkling with quick-dissolving superfine sugar. Keep dry over wax paper for up to one month. Try › Chamomile blossom, lavender, orchid, pansy, rose, violet

Taste Goal

Bitter: English daisy, sunflower
Citrus/tart: Begonia, fuchsia, hibiscus, lilac, marigold
Cucumber/crisp/greens: Borage, daylily, orchid, pansy, tulip, yucca
Floral/fragrant: Chamomile, citrus blossom, dianthus, jasmine, lavender, lilac
Garlic/earthy: Chive and dill blossoms
Minty: Bee balm, viola
Peppery/spicy: Bachelor’s button, chrysanthemum, nasturtium
Sweet/honey: Carnation, dandelion, impatiens, rose

Snip Tips

  • Do not assume that all flowers are edible; some may be poisonous. In addition, avoid if you are prone to outdoor allergies. If unsure of digestion, test a small quantity.
  • Select only organic flowers that have not been exposed to pesticides, chemicals or roadside car exhaust.
  • Gently inspect and rinse blooms with cold water.
  • Carefully pluck petals, leaving aside pistils, stamens, stems and leaves.
  • Due to flowers’ highly perishable nature, consume within one to two hours of being picked.
  • Ask your grocer’s produce manager or check farmers markets for organic varieties. Or order online through gourmetsweetbotanicals.com, marxfoods.com or melissas.com.
Posted in The Dish

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