by Jennifer A. Wickes Copyright 2003
Have you ever been to a restaurant where they have served you a
beautiful salad with flower petals scattered around the plate? Or
maybe you have had a cake decorated with flowers on top? Perhaps you
have visited a Tea Room and were served flower syrup. Edible flowers
are the new rage in haute cuisine. The look is elegant; yet preparing
flowers for eating is simple and fun to do.
The amazing part to edible flowers is that in spite of it being the
new rage, eating flowers has been going on for centuries. The first
mention of people consuming flowers was as far back as 140 BC! Did you
realize that broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and broccoflower are
all flowers? Or that the spice saffron is the stamen from the crocus
flower? Capers are unopened flower buds to a bush native in the
Mediterranean and Asian nations.
In regions such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe and India, floral
waters such as rosewater and orange flower water are used to flavor
candies to meats to beverages! France has a spice mixture known as "Herbes
de Provence" which has dried lavender flowers in it. North Africa has
an herbal mixture too, which contains rosebuds and lavender. The green
liqueur, Chartreuse, contains carnations.
There are a few cautions one should remember before harvesting any
(a) Do not harvest any flowers that could have been exposed to animal
(b) Do not harvest any flowers that have had insecticides sprayed on
(c) Do not harvest any flowers that have had fertilizers sprayed on
them unless specified for food consumption.
(d) Do not harvest any flowers from the side of roads where they have
been exposed to trash, carbon monoxide etc.
(e) If you are unsure if it is edible, then do not eat it. Caution is
always the best policy.
(f) If you have any allergies, consult your physician before
consuming edible flowers.
(g) Do not eat any flowers from florists as they have been sprayed
(h) Do not pick any flowers that show signs of disease or have been
eaten by insects.
Some of the more common EDIBLE FLOWERS in your garden:
Apple Blossom Artichoke
Bachelor Buttons AKA Cornflower
Chrysanthemum Cilantro / Coriander
Johnny Jump Up Lavendar
Lemon Verbena Lilac
Orange Blossom Pansy
Pineapple Sage Primrose
Rose of Sharon
Scented Geranium Snapdragon
Pick your flowers in the morning when their water content is at its
highest. Then bathe the flowers gently in a salt-water bath.
Immediately drop them in ice water for 1 minute. Dry on a paper
towel. For best results, use your flower petals immediately (not the
stamen or the stems), or store the whole flower in a glass of water in
the refrigerator overnight.
Flowers can be used for a multitude of dishes:
from garnishes to salads. Try freezing petals in ice cube trays
filled with water for a unique addition to your favorite lemonade or
1 egg white (please use powdered egg whites to avoid salmonella)
100 proof vodka
superfine granulated sugar
thin artist's paintbrush
violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea,
pinks, scented geraniums
Beat egg whites until frothy. Add a couple of drops of vodka to help
the flowers dry quicker. Using fresh picked flowers, paint each flower
individually with beaten egg white using the artist's paintbrush. When
thoroughly coated, sprinkle with fine sugar and place on the wire rack
to dry. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the
touch. They can be stored in an airtight container and put in the
freezer for up to a year. A simple bakery cake can be turned into a
work of art by garnishing with candies flowers.
Will last approximately 6 months!
Idea: Try a chocolate cake decorated with fresh raspberries and
candied rose petals.
4 cups vodka or brandy
1 - 2 cups flowers
Place lightly bruised petals in a jar with vodka or brandy and steep
for 2 days. Then, add sugar and steep for 2 weeks, shaking vigorously
once or twice a day to let sugar dissolve. Strain and filter into
rose, carnation, lavendar and mint
orange zest and mint
ginger and pear
peaches and lemon verbena
raspberry and lemon balm
use a dry white wine
1/2 - 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals
1 lb. sweet unsalted butter
Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Let mix stand
for several hours at room temperature, then refrigerate for several
days to bring out the flavour. Can be frozen for several months.
Wonderful on breads or used in
sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.
use cream cheese
rose, lavender or sunflower
add some herbs: basil, thyme, garlic
1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried petals
1 lb. honey
Add chopped or crushed flowers to honey. Loosely cover jar and place
in a pan half full of gently boiling water. Remove from heat, and let
sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove jar from water and let
cool to room temperature. Allow jar of honey with flowers to sit for 1
week. Flowers can then be strained out if desired.
Will last indefinitely in a cool dark place.
Uses: Tea, salad dressings, on croissants, scones, muffins and bread.
2 1/2 cups apple juice OR white wine
1 cup fresh rose petals or scented geranium flowers and leaves
4 cups sugar
1/4 lemon juice
1 - 2 drops food coloring (optional)
3 ounces of liquid pectin
fresh flower petals (optional)
Bring juice or wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and steep
until liquid has cooled, then strain out flowers leaving only liquid.
Combine 2 cups of this flower infusion with sugar, lemon juice and
food coloring. Bring to a boil over high heat and as soon as the sugar
has dissolved, stir in the pectin. Return to a rolling boil, stirring,
and boiling for exactly 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat and
skim off any foam. Let jelly cool slightly and add more flower petals
(if desired), then pour into sterilized jars. If petals do not stay
suspended, stir jelly as it cools until petals stay in place. Process
in hot water bath or seal with paraffin.
Yields: 4 - 5 half pints
1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried flowers
1 qt. vegetable oil
Add flowers to bottle of oil and place in a pan of water. Simmer
water with bottle in it gently for at least 30 minutes. Remove from
stove and cool. Cover bottle tightly, and let steep a week before
using. If dried flowers are used, they may be left in the oil. Fresh
flowers should be drained after one week as they lose their color.
Uses: Salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta, stir-frying.
Nasturtium and herb blossom oils are excellent for sautéing.
Rose and carnation oils make nice salad dressings.
1-cup water (or rosewater)
3 cups sugar
1/2 - 1-cup flower petals, whole or crushed
Boil all ingredients for 10 minutes, or until thickened into syrup.
Strain through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. Keeps up to 2
weeks in the refrigerator. Can be added to sparkling water or
champagne for a delicious beverage. Or, it may be poured over fruit,
pound cake or pancakes.
An Incomplete List of POISONOUS FLOWERS Commonly Found in the Garden:
Golden Chain Tree
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Lily of the Valley
Star of Bethlehem
This article was originally published at Suite 101.
Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cookbook Reviews" and "Cooking With
The Seasons", which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary
Sites on the Internet! For more information about Jennifer Wickes or
her columns, please go to:
Two studies just released from the
University of Toronto and the Yale University School of Medicine found
that in mice with Cystic Fibrosis , turmeric could help alleviate the
formation of thick lung congestion and allow the mice to live almost a
normal life. Further studies will continue.