Flowers have always been a popular Valentine’s Day gift but did you know that sometimes you can eat them, too? Edible flowers are at the forefront of designer cocktail trends and some even play a role in delicious desserts.
Edible flowers transform an ordinary glass of bubbly into an enchanting cocktail and can make the simplest piece of low-fat cheesecake look like something from a four-star restaurant.
Wild Hibiscus: With a slightly acidic taste, hibiscus flowers make a big impact. Just drop this edible hibiscus flower into a glass of your favorite sparkling wine and watch the bubbles “bloom” the flower before your eyes. Ease into culinary flowers with Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, an all-natural product preserved in a syrup of cane sugar and spring water with a flavor reminiscent of raspberry and rhubarb. It’s crimson color is ideal for Valentine’s Day.
Carnations: With petals that harbor a surprisingly sweet taste, carnations can be used to make candy, as a cake decoration or steeped in wine for a colorful, sweet cocktail. Cut petals away from the flower’s white base, as this part of the flower can add a bitter taste. Skipping Valentine’s Day dessert this year? Add carnation petals to salads to add a fresh burst of color.
Calendula: You may know them as marigolds, but with wonderful flavor that ranges from spicy to bitter, peppery to tangy, these shouldn’t be sipped. They are sometimes known as “Poor Man’s Saffron” as they offer a sharp taste that complements soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads.
Day Lilies: Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, day lilies taste like a combination of sweet lettuce and melon. With a chewy consistency, these look beautiful on salad platters or atop a frosted cake. Use caution when you’re cooking with these: many lilies contain alkaloids that are inedible, so check with your botanist or farmer to ensure safety and use them in moderation.
Don’t forget…not every flower is edible! Keep a few tips in mind before you bake, mix or garnish:
- Be sure that pesticides and chemicals have not been used on any part of any plant that produces blossoms you plan to eat.
- Do not harvest flowers growing by the roadside.
- Be sure that you’ve identified the flower before you eat it: only eat edible flowers and edible parts of those flowers.
- Use flowers sparingly in your recipes. If you overindulge, many flowers can cause digestive complications.
February 11th, 2011