Flowers are not just pretty faces. Adding them to food can give your cuisine flair. But don’t just chow down on any flower. There are probably poisonous plants in your own garden or home. So that this topic doesn’t get confusing, no poisonous plants will be named in this article. Incidentally there are far too many to mention. An interesting fact is that what may be poisonous to people may not be to a cow, dog or deer and vice versa. Often only part of a plant is poisonous; perhaps the seeds or sap or root. Some plants are dangerous just to contact. So don’t eat anything unless you are absolutely certain of its identity and that it is edible. This is a good rule to follow if you are foraging in the wild too. Should someone ingest an unknown plant, determine the amount eaten and pick a sample of the plant. Telephone Poison Control. The telephone number is on the first page of the Bell Telephone Book (1 800 268-9017).
Edible flowers are fun and add zest when used even if just as a garnish. Pick only from a source that you know is clean of pesticides or herbicides. Roadsides are suspect. Often you must pick the floret out of the flower head (e.g. lilacs, calendula). First you should taste your flower to determine if it’s savoury or sweet or perhaps tasteless! Here follows a list of very well-known flowers that are edible, listed by season, from spring to fall.
Dandelion – Use the petals for wine (It takes a lot and they look like rotting cigarette butts floating in the must.) Young leaves can be used sparingly in salads.
Common Blue Violets – Very hardy and can take over your lawn but they are pretty. Crystallize them in sugar and then stick them onto sugar cubes for serving an elegant tea. (Paint with egg white and cover in sugar & let dry) or use them fresh to garnish a dessert like rice pudding or baked custard when serving.
Pansies (& Johnny Jump-ups) – Those little faces look great in green salad or chopped up to give the salad colour. They are sweet enough to garnish desserts as well.
Lilacs – Pull the florets from the head and taste them. Many modern hybrids might not have much flavour. Wild lilacs are very sweet. (Remember, from childhood, sucking on honeysuckle or purple clover?) Lilac florets could decorate a dish of vanilla ice cream to make it special.
Chive flowers – A nice touch for floating on tomato soup or in a salad. Be daring; do it. They taste exactly like chives.
Daylilies – These flowers are coarser than others mentioned. There are so many varieties you must taste them as some are sweet and some savoury like green bean flavour. Remove the stigma and flower base. Unopened buds can be used too. Cook them in stir fry.
Squash blossoms (zucchini, pumpkin, or squash (species)) Male flowers bloom first. You might as well cook them until the female blossoms come along. Lightly battered and fried is one way to serve them.
Nasturtiums – spicy leaves and pretty flowers for salads. The seeds can be pickled & used as capers.
Lavender Cookies (download the pdf below for the cookie recipe)
5/8 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp chopped fresh lavender flowers or leaves
1 1/2 cup white all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
Cream sugar into butter/margarine. Beat in the egg. Mix together dry ingredients and stir into mixture until smooth.
Roll into walnut sized balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a glass bottom. Sprinkle with extra sugar.
Bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes. Cool on rack.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
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