The new health food trend coming to a restaurant near you Um, you can eat these?
Edible flowers and plants are flourishing, literally. Chefs have been using them for as long as there have been fine dining restaurants but only a few to accentuate or decorate a dish. But this isn’t a new trend. Back at the dawn of time, man experimented during their hunting and gathering days discovering what was edible and what was poisonous or induced psychotropic or other ill effects.
Herbalists have long used flowers as therapy. Calendula, lavender and chamomile are common examples. These days edible flowers are used as an ingredient to not only create visual appeal but to add flavour and extra health goodness. They are gracing our dishes especially those found on Instagram- the prettier the dish, the more likes or followers we seem to gain. Some are used to colour a dish or drink. Hibiscus blossoms turn into a magenta pink and blue mallow flowers turn into a bright purple blue hue.
The following edible flowers and plants are safe to eat and drink
• Allium flowers, which include onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leeks and chive flowers
• Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
• Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
• Apple Blossoms (Malus species)
• Banana Blossoms (Musa paradisiaca)
• Basil flowers (Ocimum basilicum)
• Begonia flowers (Tuberous begonias and waxed begonias)
• Blue Mallow flowers (Malva sylvestris)
• Borage flowers (Borago officinalis)
• Burnet flowers (Sanquisorba minor)
• Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis)
• Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus – aka Dianthus)
• Chamomile flowers (German and Roman)
• Chervil flowers (Anthriscus cerefolium)
• Chicory flowers (Cichorium intybus)
• Chrysanthemum flowers (Chrysanthemum coronarium)
• Cilantro/Coriander flowers (Coriander sativum)
• Citrus blossoms, which include lemon, orange and grapefruit blossoms
• Clover flowers (Trifolium species)
• Cornflowers (Centaurea cynaus)
• Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinalis)
• Day Lilies (Hemerocallis species)
• Dill flowers (Anethum graveolens)
• Elderberry blossoms (Sambucus spp)
• English Daisies (Bellis perennis)
• Fennel flowers (Foeniculum vulgare)
• Fuchsias (Fuchsia X hybrida)
• Garden Sorrel flowers (Rumex acetosa)
• Ginger flowers (Zingiber officinale)
• Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp)
• Hibiscus blossoms (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
• Honeysuckle blossoms (Lonicera japonica)
• Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)
• Jasmine flowers (jasmine officinale)
• Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor)
• Lavender flowers (Lavandula angustifolia)
• Lemon Verbena flowers (Aloysia triphylla)
• Lilac flowers (Syringa vulgaris)
• Linden flowers (Tilla spp.)
• Marigold flowers (Tagetes tenuifolia aka T. signata)
• Marjoram flowers (Origanum majorana)
• Mint flowers (Mentha spp)
• Nasturtium flowers (Tropaeolum)
• Oregano flowers (Origanum vulgare)
• Pansies (Viola X wittrockiana)
• Pea Blossoms (Pisum species)
• Peony flowers (Paeonia lactiflora)
• Primrose flowers also known as Cowslip (Primula vulgaris)
• Queen Anne’s Lace flowers (Daucus carota)
• Rosemary flowers (Rosmarinus officinalis)
• Roses (Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis)
• Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
• Sage flowers (Salvia officinalis)
• Savory flowers (Satureja hortensis)
• Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species)
• Squash blossoms (Curcubita pepo)
• Sunflowers (Helianthus annus)
• Tulip petals (Tulipa)
Just because they are safe to consume doesn’t mean they taste as good as they look. Experiment with flavours in cooking. Some chefs are now including them as an integral part of a dish. Do some research and discover new recipes. Try them on salads. They can add a sweet, spicy, citrus or savoury flavour to a dish.
When eating flowers, be aware that any pesticides and herbicides will still remain on the flower so only pick those that you know are grown organically or you can grow your own. For instance, avoid those bought from a florist. Also avoid those found on footpaths, railway tracks and roads!
Edible flowers are available to buy from some fine food stores or direct from the farmer in little packets.
Be mindful of allergic reactions. Eat small amounts to begin with.
Only eat the flower petals by separating them from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep them from wilting.
Here’s a Martha Stewart recipe that’ll get you started.
Green salad with edible flowers
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 1/2 ounces tender baby salad greens (about 12 cups)
1 package (50-count) unsprayed violas (small pansies) or other edible flowers
Combine vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil, then season dressing with salt and pepper.
Toss dressing with greens and top with flowers. Serve immediately.
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