Look in any kitchen and youâ€™ll find common flowers used in cooking â€“ like broccoli or artichokes – but there are hundreds more that are often overlooked. This is mostly due to the fact that many donâ€™t know enough about edible flowers to consider incorporating them into their meals. Once you do though, youâ€™ll find that a whole range of delicious possibilities exist.
If youâ€™re experimenting itâ€™s imperative to do some research before you start cooking with edible flowers. While thereâ€™s a range of succulent and colourful plants to enhance your meals, there are also ones which can cause allergies, taste horrible or even poison you. Itâ€™s best to start with a table listing the ones that are safe, and build it up as you go along.
Remember the following:
1. Always go for organic flowers only â€“ to avoid pesticides and fertilisers – and remember that flowers picked from the wild, even if you can identify them, might have been contaminated by car exhaust fumes or pesticides.
2. When experimenting with edible flowers, add them into your diet slowly and make sure they agree with you. Also, try not to eat them if youâ€™re suffering from bad hay fever or allergies, as some can enhance the symptoms.
3. Never eat a flower you arenâ€™t able to identify first.
Some of the better known flowers we eat include:
Less common ones we can eat are:
- Pansies â€“ they taste mild and are perfect for salads and desserts.
- Chamomile â€“ mostly used in tea but they make a sublime dessert garnish.
- Chrysanthemum â€“ use them to bulk up a stir fry.
- Dandelion â€“ these are really nutritious. Fry in butter and add to a warm noodle salad.
- Nasturtium â€“ the peppery taste makes them a great addition to salads, and they can also be pickled.
- Sunflower â€“ edible buds and petals are great when mixed into pasta.
- Roses â€“ eat the petals but remove the white base, which is bitter-tasting.
- Clover flowers â€“ the nectar inside the petals is sweet, and the actual flower can be boiled for a few minutes and eaten. Guinea pigs and hamsters will love the taste of this too.
- Apple, cherry and pear tree blossoms â€“ work them into cake recipes or desserts, or enjoy them in a salad.
These examples are just a few of many that you can enjoy in the kitchen. The more you experiment the more youâ€™ll realise how abundant and exciting the plant world is when it comes to creating fantastic food.