Cooking with flowersYes, those flowers look beautiful as garnishes, but what do they taste like?
Bean blossoms have a sweet, beany flavor. Nasturtiums have a wonderfully peppery flavor similar to watercress and their pickled buds can be substituted for more expensive capers. Borage tastes like cucumber, and miniature pansies (Johny-Jump-Ups) have a mild wintergreen taste.
Violets, roses and lavender lend a sweet flavor to salads or desserts. Bright yellow calendulas are an economic alternative to expensive saffron, though not quite as pungent. Other flowers may have a spicy or peppermint flavor.
When in doubt, taste, but first be sure it's not poisonous.
Edible flowers tips and hintsEdible flowers as a garnish make any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavor of the flower compliments the dish. Here are a few ideas to beautify your recipes and perk up your taste buds:
• Place a colorful gladiolus or hibiscus flower (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favorite dip.
• Sprinkle edible flowers in your green salads for a splash of color and taste.
• Freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes for a pretty addition to punches and other beverages.
• Use in flavored oils, vinaigrettes, jellies, and marinades.
• One of the most popular uses is candied or crystalized flowers, used to decorate cakes and fine candies.
• Asthmatics or others who suffer allergic reactions to composite-type flowers (calendula, chicory, chrysanthemum, daisy, English daisy, and marigold) should be on alert for possible allergic reaction.
• Never use non-edible flowers as a garnish. You must assume that if guests find a flower on a plate of food, they will think it edible.
• Use flowers sparingly in your recipes, particularly if you are not accustomed to eating them. Too much of a pretty thing can lead to digestive problems.
• If you are prone to allergies, introduce flowers in small amounts so you can judge their effect. Some have a much more pronounced flavor than others, so you'll need to judge accordingly.
• The leaves of some flowers also have culinary uses, but be sure to check a trusted food reference source before experimenting. This helpful edible flowers chart links to full color photos, plus includes info on scientific name, pertinent warnings, and flavor comparisons.
• Peruse this plant toxicity list for further reference.
More About Edible Flowers and Edible Flowers Recipes:• Edible Flower Storage and Selection
• Edible Flower Cooking Tips and Hints
• Edible Flower History
• Edible Flower Flavor Chart
• Poisonous Flowers Chart
• Edible Flower Recipes
Edible Flowers Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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