Anna Marissax Flower May 14th 2020, 00:00:00
To most of us, the idea of eating flowers evokes the humorous image of someone biting into a rose or chopping off the head of a daisy. Yet there was a time not so very long ago that flowers were an integral part of cooking. While most of us are aware that violets can be candied and nasturtiums ate in a salad, there’s a truly amazing variety of flowers that are not only edible but delicious!
A Candy Flower Garden for Your Sweet Tooth
Violets aren’t the only flower that can be candied! Many of the spring flowers with small, delicate blossoms have a sweet, slightly spicy flavor that is enhanced by dipping in sugar. Any flowers that you gather for eating should not have been sprayed with any pesticide by growing them yourself, you can be sure that they’re untreated. A Candy Flower Garden that blooms throughout the summer can include:
Violets of course! Purple, blue or white, violets are among the first flowers to bloom in the spring. They spread easily, and grow readily when transplanted into a garden bed and you do want to confine them to a bed unless you love the look of a full carpet of blooms spreading across your lawn.
Pansies A relative of violets, pansies are just as delicately flavored and can be used in most recipes that call for violets. They make beautiful border flowers, with their brightly painted faces.
Angelica These delicate, lacy white flowers can be sprinkled in salads but the stems and shoots make a delicious traditional candy that tastes a bit like minty licorice.
Roses yes, roses! Candied rose petals and rose syrup were mainstays in Victorian cooking. The sweet delicately flavored rose syrup gives baklava its characteristic flavor and is a perfect foil for cardamom in Indian recipes.
To candy flowers from your garden:
Violets and pansies can be candied whole. Roses should be separated into petals. Most recipes for candied flowers call for the use of raw egg whites. Because of the danger of salmonella, I recommend using a confectioner’s powdered egg white instead.
Mix powdered egg white according to package directions (the equivalent of one egg white).
Spread a cup of superfine sugar in a flat bottomed pan. Carefully dip each flower into the egg white, then press into the sugar. Use a fork to gently turn the flower so that all surfaces of the petals are covered. Lift out of sugar and lay on a screen or drying rack till completely dry. Apple and cherry blossoms can also be candied the same way.
A Soup, Salad and Savory Flower Garden
When I was growing up, one of the most special treats of early summer was my grandmother’s fried squash blossoms. Dipped in egg and flour, then fried in olive oil with garlic, the blossoms have a sweet, nutty flavor that is like nothing else in this world. Other garden flowers that are delicious in soups and salads include:
Borage Like the leaves, borage flowers are delicious in salads and cold soups. They have a cool, cucumber-like taste that translates well from the flower garden to the kitchen table.
Carnations The flavor is as spicy as the scent. Carefully separate the petals from the bitter white of the flower’s base and sprinkle in salads for a surprising touch of color and spice.
Daylilies Like squash blossoms, daylilies have a mildly sweet, nutty flavor that many people think varies by color. Dredged in flour and dipped in egg, fried daylilies are a succulent vegetable.
Those are just a small sampling of the many edible uses of flowers from your garden. If you’re interested in learning more, you’ll find excellent recipes and information on edible flowers at several web sites on the internet. DO be careful in your taste-testing. If you’re not certain that a flower is edible do NOT eat it.