Flowers are beautiful accents to any decor. They help bring Nature inside while their scents pleasantly waft through a room and their colors uplift the spirits. But flowers have other uses too! They can be used in some of your favorite dishes as garnish and as part of the meal itself.
Flowers have been eaten for centuries. In fact if you drink tea, chances are you have consumed some made by flowers. Historically, flowers were used medicinally, brewed as teas, and used to beautify a table. There is a wide variety of edible flowers, and each imparts a unique flavor – some sweet, some pungent or acidic, and some savory. Knowing which ones can be consumed is very useful to any cook, but particularly to the “foodie” who enjoys thinking outside the box. Here is a brief list of some of the most used flowers and how they can accent a meal.
Also called the Marigold, Calendula is a very popular flower used in many different dishes. It is also sometimes referred to as “The Poor Man’s Saffron”. Their petals are orange and gold and their taste can be bitter or spicy, with a bit of tang. They are best used for texture and taste on salads, in soups, on sides like pasta and risotto, and their gorgeous color infuses a yellow hue into butters, soups, and spreads.
Dandelions have been a medicinal herb for a very long time. Brewed as a tea, it is helpful for purifying the blood and used as a diuretic. Both the flowers and the leaves are exceptionally healthy. The dandelion buds are the tastiest and have sweet flavor. Older flowers tend to taste bitter, but are also useful in hot dishes as well as salads. The flowers can be steamed or eaten raw. The leaves are mainly used as an additional green in salads, with the flowers adding a splash of color.
Citrus Blossoms (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and kumquat)
The flowers of citrus plants are very useful if you want to add the flavor of those fruits to any dish. They are wonderful in salads (veggie & fruit). They add both taste and color and would be a lovely accent flavor to fish and seafood. Their aromas please your sense of smell, and their blooms are a feast for the eyes. Orange water – distilled – is a staple in many Middle Eastern dishes. But only a few petals will be needed to do the trick. Don’t pile them on.
The magnificent colors of the fuchsia flower make it a gorgeous garnish for any dish. The flowers are a bit acidic in flavor and can be used in salads with chicken or sprinkled on baked or poached fish. The berries are also edible and add a lovely texture and shape to food.
With a licorice-like flavor, these blooms come in beautiful colors from deep rose to lavender blue. All parts of the plant are edible, both raw and cooked. Because of their unique colors, the flowers are beautiful as a garnish, but also a great accent flavor for salads, cooked vegetables, and fish. The stems of the plant and its seeds are often candied and used in liqueurs, and the young leaves can be brewed as a tea. Mature leaves are great as an addition to other salad greens.