EDIBLE FLOWERS – DO ENJOY, BUT KNOW WHICH ONES
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Flower consumption has a long worldwide history in most cultures. The Chinese served lotus, chrysanthemums  and lilies in their cooking, so much so, these blooms became symbols in their artistic culture.

Below is a list of edible flowers subject to certain cautions:

Black Locust
Blooms of culinary herbs
Calendulas
Carnations
Chamomile
Chives
Clary sage
Clover
Common Milkweed
Dandelions
Daylilies
Fuchsia
Gardenia
Geraniums
Hibiscus flowers
Honeysuckle
Johnny-jump-ups
Lavender
Marigolds
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Rose of Sharon
Safflower
Spiderwort
Squash Blossoms
Sunflowers
Violets
Water Hyacinth
Water lilly
Winter savory
Yucca.

If you grow your own edible flowers, here’s some tips for getting started. Keep in mind, the same flower grown in different places can have different flavors, so taste before selecting. The particular plant, the soil and weather conditions account for this.

Current seed catalogs offer edible flower seeds and interesting ideas for their use. Johnny-Jump-Ups, marigolds, nasturtiums (have a sharp, pungent flavor rather like watercress), pansies and geraniums thrive in containers. Mix with herbs such as thyme, sage or parsley. Grow them in containers on decks, balconies and terraces.

Once grown, preparation of blooms for serving is quite simple. In  general, petals taste best. However, Roses, Dianthus,  English daisies, Signet marigolds and chrysanthemums possess a bitterness at the base of their petals. Discard the sepals, pistils, ovaries and stamens.

Some points to watch:

·        A flower served on a plate as decoration may not necessarily be edible.

·        Leaves and other parts of an edible flower plant may be toxic.

·        Elect to use only flowers which have been grown organically and have no pesticide, or pesticide vapor, on them.

·        Concentrate on growing your own flowers for eating. If purchasing explore gourmet markets, specialty stores and farmers’ markets. Avoid florist’s flowers and blooms from garden centers.

·        Avoid eating flowers if you have asthma, allergies or hay fever.

Here’s some guidelines for preparing flowers for your table:

·        Taste flowers before choosing. Be sure they taste pleasant to you.

·        Flowers you eat are best served the day they are picked.

·        Best time is the post-dew cool of the morning.

·        Choose only flowers at their peak.

·        Wash gently and thoroughly.

·        If long-stemmed, place in water

·        If blooms, only, place in damp paper towel, then plastic bag  and refrigerate.

Here’s some suggestions for using edible flowers:

·        Enhance salads with flowers and light vinaigrette dressings.

·        Squash flowers can be stuffed, dipped in a light better and fried.

·        Edible flowers are candied and frozen in cubes for colorful beverages.

·        Used in homemade hot or iced teas and wines

·        Mince them for use in cheese spreads, herbal butters, pancakes, crepes, muffins and waffles.

·        To candy flowers, beat an egg white and brush lightly onto clean, dry flower petals. Sprinkle with superfine sugar.

·        Try chive blossoms in a salad, also anise or Licorice basil in fruit salads.

Here’s some reliable sources for more reading on the topic of edible flowers:

Find 18 flower recipes at:
http://recipesource.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?search_string=flower

Find an extensive list of poisonous plants on the Web:  http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/poison.htm

For North Carolina State University’s table of edible flowers, go to:  http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8513.html

From Iowa State University, find Ten Rules of Edible Flowers:
http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1995/7-21-1995/eatflow.html

From the University of Minnesota Extension Service:  http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h104edibleflowers.html

From Colorado State University:
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/Pubs/Garden/07237.html

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

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