Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n10)
Recipes: Then & Now - Flowers - by Douglas Carpenter
posted: May 14, 2010
Have you ever thought about serving flowers? Most people would probably say no. You might want to consider it though. It can be a wonderful adventure.
First though you must consider the kinds of flowers you can eat safely. There are many plants, and the flowers they produce, that might be toxic. Either because the plant is toxic or the plant was treated with pesticides. Those you don't want. The best are always going to be the ones grown in your own garden. The flowers from a florist will most likely be treated with some kind of chemical, so don't try those. Also do not eat flowers picked from the side of the road, who knows how dirty and smog and chemical covered they are.
The most common flowers for eating would be squash blossoms. Or violets. Or maybe daylilies. The squash blossoms and daylilies are traditionally used as a cup to serve some kind of salad like tuna or chicken or dipped in a batter and deep fried. The violets are usually sugared and dried and used as a garnish on cakes and other desserts. But there are many more choices. Here is a list of some that are on several lists I found. Being on more than one list makes me confident it is going to be safe. If you want to try using flowers in your cooking, stick to ones you are sure of. If you want to explore more do your research and be sure you know it is safe.
To use flowers try these ideas:
Toss flowers or petals in a salad
Battered and deep fried (I am thinking chive florets stirred into the batter and made into fritters!)
Add to a marinade (any of the herb flowers would be good)
Use to season hot or cold soups, salad dressings or dips
Use to decorate cakes and desserts
Serve with soft cheese on crackers
Some may also make a great addition to drinks
For flavoring Crème Brulee or ice cream (mint!) and sorbet
Add to sandwiches
Sauté florets with your stir fry
Rose or lavender jelly
Garden Flowers-flower and part used
Bachelor buttons-flower petals
Daylilies-buds, flowers, petals
Dianthus or carnations-flower petals
Nasturtium-buds, blossoms and seeds (Pickled flower buds make a less expensive substitute for capers)
Pot Marigolds or Calendula-petals only
Weeds-make sure the area has NOT been sprayed!
Dandelions-flowers, petals, buds
Common vegetables-remember, not all vegetable flowers are safe
Alliums-leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives-florets
Scarlet Runner Beans-flowers, petals
Herbs-a milder version of the leaf
Douglas Carpenter is an avid recipe and cookbook collector. He has over 400 cookbooks in his library and he has published two cookbooks of locally-collected recipes. He has won sweepstakes and blue ribbons in the Culinary Arts division of the Indiana State Fair. Email your cooking questions to douglas@BroadRippleGazette.com