The Wonder of Edible Flowers!
Next Valentine, don't gift roses to your sweetheart, serve them for dinner..yes.you heard me right! Munching on rose petals may look insane to many, but in fact rose like many other flowers is an edible flower that has been and still is being used in cooking. Recently I saw a video of a French movie, where rose petals were used for pheasant preparation. It looked lovely and inspired me to find more information and recipes that incorporate the wonder of edible flowers.
When did the Edible flowers reach the kitchen?
The first recorded instance of the use of edible flowers in cooking can be traced back to 140 B.C. Chinese dishes use daylily buds while mallow, rose and violet were used by Romans as edible flowers. Italian and Hispania prepared stuffed squash blossoms while Asian Indians use sweetened rose water for a number of their dishes like the Falooda. Even the bible has a reference to the consumption dandelions ,an edible flower as an herb.
Flowers have been used to make drinks, jellies, jams, decorate cakes and even cupcakes. During the Victorian era edible flowers like Borage, Violets, Primroses and Gilly flowers were often used in salads. They were even pickled and kept aside so that they can be used during winter when flowers are scarce. They were also used to add color to the food.
Why Edible Flowers?
Due to the aesthetic appeal and unique taste that edible flowers lend to the dishes , they have made a come back over the past few years. These are great, tasty and a lovely substitute for inferior fast food. They also lend a signature flavor to the dishes they are added to. Restaurants and Chefs from all over America are indulging in edible flowers.
The boon of cooking with edible flowers is that you can easily grow them in your garden and pluck out fresh flowers when it is needed! Decorate your home with some, but don't forget to cook with some! You have to admit there is something very appealing about biting into petals of a flower or drinking flower beverages.
Edible Flowers in my Kitchen
The most expensive edible flower product is Saffron made from the dried stigma of crocus flower. Till date saffron is used in a number of dishes around the world, especially in India. It adds to the flavor and aroma of the dish. If I don't have saffron at home, I usually use another edible flower substitute, the Bright Yellow Calendulas.
The most popular edible flowers are Rose petals and Rose Hips. These can be used to make jelly, jam, cocktails, soup and even tea. Here is a simple recipe for a delightful cup of Rose Petal tea. ( While using rose , make sure you cut off white portion at the base-they are very bitter)
Rose Petal Tea
1. Choose a fresh rose and strip the petals under running water.(11/2 cups rose petal)
2. Boil the petals in 3 cups of water in a saucepan for 5 minutes.
3. Strain in to tea cups and add honey to sweeten it. This particular recipe will serve four.
Daisies, Sunflowers, Honeysuckle and even Jasmine are edible flowers. Always remember to wash the flowers properly before using them. Check these link for recipes using rose petal. Do any of you use any if these edible flowers in your cooking? I would love to learn more about what and how you use these edible flowers!
A word of caution:- Remember not all flowers are edible so make sure you are sure what you are picking up for your culinary experiment is actually safe. If you have pollen allergy avoid the pistils, stamen and pollen!