Aug 1, 2008

Edible Flowers

By Natalie Mitts
Brighten up your salad with some flowers from the garden. There are many flowers that are safe to eat, but there are even more that are harmful to ingest. Be extremely careful, especially if you have food allergies. Remember not to eat any flower that has been treated with pesticides or any other chemical. Only use flowers you grew yourself or that you bought from a grocer or farmer. Wildflowers and flowers from floral shops should not be eaten. Wash all flowers before using in food. You can always use flowers just as garnishes in salads or other foods; don't feel like you or your guests have to eat them. Never put non-edible flowers on a plate because someone may accidentally eat them. The tasty part of the flower is the petal - remove everything else. Flowers taste best before they wilt. Before consuming any of these suggestions, purchase a book on edible flowers with photos. Here are a few kinds that are typically safe to eat.

Bee Balm - These flowers taste a bit like mint or oregano, with a hint of citrus. Look for the red petals of Bee Balm to add color to drinks, fruit salads or green salads.

Borage - Borage tastes like cucumber. It works well with cheese, chilled soups, dips, drinks, salads and sandwiches. The flowers are typically bluish purple.

Calendula - Spicy and tangy, calendula works great with cheese, eggs and salads. The yellow petals look great on cakes. They are often used as garnishes with desserts, but their saffron-like taste is great in richer dishes. Be sure to avoid eating the pollen from these flowers, because many people are allergic to it.

Lavender - Purple in color, lavender adds a lemony floral taste to foods. The flavor is very strong, so use these flowers sparingly. Lavender works well with bitter green salads, desserts, fish, fruit, meat, pasta and sauces.

Nasturtium - These colorful flowers have a peppery taste. Their blossoms are typically red, orange or yellow. Nasturtiums add flavor to cheese, green salads, potatoes, rice, sandwiches and seafood.

Pansy - A common variety of violets, pansies have a very mild flavor. They are slightly sweet and taste a bit like grass. Therefore, they go well in desserts, fruit salads and green salads. Pansies come in a range of colors from yellow to pink to purple.

Rose - Roses are very sweet. The stronger the scent, the strong the taste becomes. Darker flowers typically have a stronger flavor as well. Roses are great with desserts, drinks, jams, salads and spreads. Some taste like apples while others have a more citrus-like flavor. Remember to remove the white portion of the petals; it is very bitter.

Runner Bean - There are two edible varieties of runner beans: scarlet runner beans and the painted lady. The scarlet variety is bright red and tastes like the beans it grows with. Painted ladies grow coral petals and also carry long green beans. The flower adds taste and color to green salads and sandwiches.

** MIX!, Dining Services and BYU are not responsible for any illness that may result from consuming flowers. Always use caution with unfamiliar varieties and only eat in small quantities. **

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