Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Edible Flowers

Hi peeps!
Good morning ya'll! Welcome to mid-week, where Monday is nothing but a bad memory and Friday is a future flirt ;).

Of all the garnishes that are well known out there; edible flowers is not on the top of that list. Mostly because peeps don't know that there are some flowers that are edible. I love garnishing with edible flowers because your plating rating and pazzazz factor shoots up by WOW degrees; instantly. Now; don't run off and ravage your poor garden with some secateurs just yet; let's take a look at the flowers that are safely edible; for we all know by now that it is forbidden to garnish a plate with an inedible garnish at any time.

Right; now that the harsh warning in my harsh mommy-voice has been issued, let's get to the fun part....I discovered this awesome Edible Flowers info on Thompson & Morgan and this is what they have to say:

It is surprising how many flowers growing in our gardens are edible. Edible flowers have been used for years in cooking or as decorations for various dishes.The Chinese were the first to experiment with flowers as food and their many and varied recipes can be traced back as far back as 3,000 B.C.
In Roman times, the edible flowers of pinks, violets and roses were used in dishes and lavender in sauces. Gardeners and cooks over 1000 years ago were already using pot marigolds and orange blossom in their cooking. Today many fine restaurants around the UK and indeed the world are using more and more edible flowers to enhance salads with their colour, texture and intriguing flavours, as well as for decoration on appetisers, starters, cakes and many other dishes.

It is always best to grow your own edible flowers, and then you can be sure that they are clean, fresh and free from pests and disease. The majority of edible flowers are always best picked fresh from the garden the day you want to use them. Growing your own also allows you to experiment and show off to dinner guests both what you have grown and what you’ve created with a colourful and tasty dish. As with any food and salad preparation always maintain good personal hygiene and practices.
Even if you are not keen on experimenting with salads or sauces, edible flowers make excellent garnishes which, unlike some ‘decorations’ which appear in the guise of nouvelle cuisine, are actually nice to eat! Furthermore, as in Roman times, the flower garden becomes a treasure chest of delicately flavoured treats to scatter on your salads or to add a ‘touch of class’ to your culinary endeavours.

Disclaimer: Thompson & Morgan has researched all the edible flowers listed below. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk. Thompson & Morgan always recommends following good hygiene practices. Thompson & Morgan cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers. In case of doubt please consult your doctor. Here I also add that The Chef Mother will also not be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the flowers, please be safe and KNOW what you're eating ;-D

Agastache anisata, Agastache foeniculum
Both flowers and leaves have a delicate, fragrant taste. They are ideal for adding to cakes for a hint of anise flavour, or add the leaves and flowers to whipping cream for a creamy, liquorice flavour.
If you are pregnant, be sure to research possible contraindications to using this herb.

*Apple/ Crab Apple
Malus domestica, Malus x robusta, Malus x zumi
Apple blossoms have a slightly floral taste and the petals are lovely in salads. Infuse petals in whipped cream or ice cream to go over an apple tart. Blossoms look attractive when floated in a fruit punch.

Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum minimum, Ocimum x citriodorum
Flowers can be used as a substitute for leaves in any dish requiring basil. The flowers should be used more sparingly due to their very intense flavour. Delicious added to salads, soups or pasta.

Begonia x tuberhybrida
The brightly coloured flowers have a delicious light, lemon taste and a crisp texture. Use snipped petals as a garnish in salads and sandwiches or dip whole petals in flavoured yogurt and serve as an appetizer.
Only tuberous begonia petals are edible. The petals contain oxalic acid and therefore should only be eaten in moderation and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidney stones or rheumatism.

*Biennial Clary
Salvia sclarea
Flowers have a very aromatic flavour and being pastel shades, make a lovely contrast when added to salads.

Borago officinalis
Mix flowers into vegetable and fruit salads, or use to garnish soups or to decorate desserts. An excellent choice for freezing in ice cubes and floating on iced tea. Petals have a cucumber taste and the stamens add a hint of sweetness.
Pregnant and lactating women should avoid borage flowers, as more than eight to ten flowers can cause milk to flow. They can also have a diuretic effect, so should not be eaten in great quantity.

*Busy Lizzie
Impatiens walleriana
The flowers come in many colours and look attractive used as a garnish in salads or floated in cold drinks.

*Cape Jasmine
Gardenia jasminoides
These extremely fragrant blooms can be used to make pickles, preserves and jams, or shredded and added as flavouring to cakes.

*Dianthus/ Carnation/ Pinks
Dianthus amurensis, Dianthus barbatus, Dianthus caryophyllus, Dianthus chinensis, Dianthus deltoides, Dianthus plumarius, Dianthus superbus
Most dianthus have a pleasant spicy, floral, clove-like taste, especially the more fragrant varieties, and are ideal for decorating or adding to cakes. They’ll also make a colourful garnish to soups, salads and the punch bowl. The petals of Sweet Williams will add zest to ice cream, sorbets, salads, fruit salad, dessert sauces, seafood and stir-fries. It is advisable to remove the white heel at the base of the petal as this has a bitter taste.

Nepeta cataria
The small flowers have an aromatic, strong mint/spice flavour so should be used sparingly when cooking. Ideal for adding a bit of bite to pasta or rice dishes and all types of vegetables. Also makes a tasty complement to meat dishes like lamb.
Nepeta is not recommended to eat during pregnancy

*Chicory, Raddichio
Cichorium intybus
The fresh flowers have a mild lettuce flavour and make a decorative addition to salads, whilst flower buds can be pickled. Picked blooms look attractive frozen in ice cubes and added to drinks.
Contact with all parts of this plant can irritate the skin or aggravate skin allergies

*Chives/ Chinese Chives
Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum,
Chive flowers have a mild onion flavour and are surprisingly crunchy. They are widely used tossed in salads, pasta, omelettes and scrambled eggs. Or you can add a few to white fish dishes or to cheese sauce to give that extra bite. As tempting it may be to pop the whole flower into your mouth, refrain from doing so as the pungency in that quantity can be overwhelming. For garnish and cooking break the flower into individual florets .

*Citrus Trees
Citrus aurantium, Citrus limon, Citrus x latifolia
Citrus flowers are overwhelming in scent and flavour and go really well with many different foods from stir-fries to puddings. They are also ideal for crystallising and decorating cakes or desserts.

Coriandrum sativum
The flowers are as adaptable as the leaves in a variety of different dishes. Scatter over cauliflower, add to the end of a stir-fry or add to cream cheese. Scatter a few flowers over an orange fruit salad, as the flavour of the flowers will

Centaurea cyanus
These attractive flowers have no fragrance but do have a sweet-to-spicy clove-like flavour. They are ideal for mixing with other flowers to make attractive confetti for sprinkling over salads, omelettes, and pasta dishes. Or they can be used on their own as a colourful garnish.

Cucurbita pepo
All squash flowers have a slightly sweet ‘nectar’ taste. These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings, battered and deep fried or sautéed and added to pasta. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelettes, scrambled egg or used to add colour to salads.

Bellis perennis
Pull flowers apart for a mass of small quill petals ideal for creating a colourful garnish on desserts or soups, in salads or with savoury dishes. Also make useful decorations for cakes, biscuits, mousses and pâtés.
If you have hay fever, asthma or severe allergies, you should avoid eating flowers of the daisy family because they could trigger an allergic reaction.

Day lily petals are great in salads, hot and cold soups, cooked and served as a vegetable or chopped and added to stir-fries. Try sautéing the buds or flowers, which can then be stuffed with almost any filling.
Only hemerocallis, the ‘Day Lily’ can be eaten. Do not eat other types of lilies (Lillium) as they are poisonous.

Anethum graveolens
Add flowers to fish dishes, omelettes or sprinkle over cooked vegetables. Add whole flowers to pickled gherkins, cucumbers or beetroots for a milder flavour than dill seed.

*Evening Primrose, Ozark Sundrops
Oenothera macrocarpa, Oenothera odorata, Oenothera versicolor, Oenothera speciosa, Oenothera missouriensis
The flowers have a similar taste to lettuce, so will make a fine addition to any green salad whilst also adding some colour.

*Feijoa sellowiana
The flower petals have a flavour often described as being similar to that of candyfloss. The petals are ideal added to a fruit salad, smoothie, milkshake or an iced drink. The fruits can also be used in chutneys and tropical fruit salads.

Foeniculum vulgare
The mild anise/liquorice flavour combines well with fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Delicious added to cucumber or potato soup. Make fennel flower oil and use to baste pork chops on a barbecue.

*Filipendula ulmaria
The sweetly scented flowers can be eaten in salads or added to homemade wine.

The stunning colours and graceful shape of fuchsias make them ideal as a green or fruit salad garnish. They look very decorative if crystallised or inserted into jelly. The berries are also edible and useful for making jams. Before eating the flower remove all green and brown bits and gently remove the stamen pistils as this will certainly enhance the petal flavour.

*Garland Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum coronarium
Petals are best quickly and lightly fried in vegetable oil before adding to soups, salads and stir-fries. Use the strongly spicy flavoured flowers sparingly in salads or when making Japanese Chrysanthemum soup.
Only chrysanthemum coronarium should be eaten; it is not advisable to eat other types of chrysanthemum.

Flowers taste similar to lettuce, and make a lovely receptacle for sweet or savoury spreads or mousses. You could also toss individual petals in salads for colour. It is best to must remove the anthers, take the middle of the blossom out before eating/ using.

Infuse the flowers to make a popular, mildly citrus-flavoured tea. Add strips of vibrant coloured petals to fruit salads. It is best to use the petals from the flower heads. If you use them whole, beware of the pollen.

Alcea rosea
The flowers can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes, mousses and roulades or try mixing them with salad leaves for a stunning dish. Flowers can also be used to make a subtly flavoured syrup to add to various puddings. Before eating , remove the centre stamen and any green bits.

Hyssopus officinalis
Ideal for adding to soups or salads, or can be infused to make a refreshing tea. Hyssop also makes a perfect complement to fish and meat dishes.

*Japanese Basil
Perilla frutescens
The whole flower can be eaten, adding a spicy flavour to stir-fries, chicken or fish dishes.

Jasminum officinale
The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea, but can also be added to shellfish dishes.
Only jasmine officinale is edible. The false Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a completely different genus and is considered too poisonous for human consumption.

Lavandula multifida, Lavandula stoechas, Lavandula angustifolia
There are many ways to use lavender flowers, both in sweet or savoury dishes. Make a delicious lavender sugar and add to biscuits, sorbets, jams or jellies. Add flowers to vegetable stock and create a tasty sauce for duck, chicken or lamb dishes.

*Lavender oil
May be poisonous. No more than two undiluted drops should be taken internally.

*Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis
The flowers are small, so are ideal for adding to salad dressings or soups. They can also be added to stuffing for poultry dishes too.

Syringa vulgaris
Mix fresh fragrant flowers with a little cream cheese and serve on crackers or stir flowers into yogurt to add a hint of lemon. Also useful as a garnish for cakes, scones or sweets.

Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia, Tagetes patula x erecta
The flowers and leaves have a citrus taste, making them ideal for adding to salads, sandwiches, seafood dishes or hot desserts.
Marigolds may be harmful in large amounts. They should only be eaten occasionally and in moderation.

Cucurbita pepo
All squash flowers have a slightly sweet nectar taste . These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings , battered and deep fried or sauteed and added to pasta . Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelets, scrambled egg or add colour to salads.

*Mint/ Pennyroyal Mint
Mentha x piperita, Mentha pulegium, Mentha suaveolens, Mentha x gracilis, Mentha spicata
These tiny flowers pack a real punch and add that something extra to green salads, fruit salads, fresh strawberries, chocolate mousse or chocolate cake. Can also be used to decorate and flavour lamb dishes.

*Monarda/ Bergamot
Monarda citriodora subsp. Astromontana, Monarda didyma
As well as being colourful, the petals have a sweet, spicy flavour and will enhance salads, jellies and stuffings, rice and pasta dishes. Fresh or dried leaves can be used to make delicious bergamot tea. Before using the flowers, only give them a minimal rinse with water so as not to diminish the fragrance.

*Mooli Radish
Raphanus sativus
The radish flowers flavour is a milder version of the spicy root, making it ideal to add colour to the top of a salad or sprinkle over cooked vegetables to add a little spice.

Tropaeolum majus, Tropaeolum minus
The fresh leaves and flowers have a peppery flavour similar to watercress. The flowers will add a spicy touch to salads and the green seeds can be chopped and used with parsley as a garnish or made into capers. Try them combined with cream cheese or butter in canapés, or in a cheese and tomato sandwich. Flowers can also be used to garnish steaks or casseroles.

*Onion (Welsh/ Spring)
Allium fistulosum
Onion flowers offer an onion flavour, without the bite of an onion bulb. These are ideal for tossing in a salad or for mixing in with vegetables.

Origanum vulgare
Wonderful added to tomato dishes, pizza and when making your own bread. Flowers can also be added to butter for flavour.

*Ornamental Kale
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group)
The leaves can be picked while still young and will make a tasty and colourful addition to salads.

Viola x wittrockiana
Flowers have a lettuce-like flavour and make a decorative addition to a green salad or to garnish a pâté or dessert. They can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes, cookies or creamy desserts.

Pisum sativum
Flowers are slightly sweet and, surprisingly enough, taste like young peas. Delicious added to salads.
Use candied flowers to decorate fish dishes or cakes. The shoots and vine tendrils are also edible and have the same delicate, pea-like flavour.
Only vegetable pea flowers can be eaten, not sweet pea flowers which are toxic.

And there you have it, and now you know! Garnishing with flowers this weekend? Why not take a pic and send it to so we can share your meal in our Fan Album! (Coming soon!)

Get creative, peeps! And NEVER GIVE UP TRYING!
Floral hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

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