Flowers are everywhere in the Spring, but you might be surprised to see them in your bag of mixed greens that you purchased at the market. A mistake? Not at all. Flowers, more specifically edible flowers, have been a longtime partner of gardens and chefs tables. The ancient Romans used roses, violets and borages in their cooking. The Chinese, Greeks and Romans did so as well. Traditional flowers include squash blossoms used in Italian recipes and rose petals in Indian food.
Today edible flowers are known for their vibrant colors and lovely textures which provide a delightful accent to your salad, drinks, desserts or dinner plate. They are also full of flavor too. Some flowers have a spicy flavor, while others taste more flowery.
If you grow herbs, such as chives, you might have noticed the delightful little purple flowers sprouting at the top. These flowers can be used to flavor pasta dough or add a spicy touch to your own pasta dish. Sweeter or milder edible flowers can be added to simple syrups for flavoring, as a pretty garnish to a summer drink, or to add flavor to teas or lemonades. You can use vibrant Nasturtiums in salads and beautiful Violets in cupcakes. The possibilities are endless.
As, beautiful as these flowers are be sure that you only eat flowers that you know are edible either by growing them yourself or purchasing them from a farmer. If you are not sure which flowers can be eaten, stop by the Young Harvests tent at Bethesda Central or Pike Central markets and Rob will be happy to show you what edible flowers look like and maybe you will even get to taste one!
So this Memorial Day, wow your guests with flowers…flowers in your food that is.
For more information about edible flowers we recommend these books:
The Edible Flower Garden by Rosalind Creasy
Edible Flowers by Cathy Wilkinson Barash