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Edible Flowers: Types and Tips

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That a certain species of plant gives rise to edible flowers does not mean that we can consume the flowers of any plant of that species.

Spring is coming and the flowers are coming. Flowering fields, parks, gardens, dishes… Did I say dishes? Yes, despite associating flowers with a fundamentally ornamental element, there are also edible flowers that can be part of our dishes. As part of the food, sometimes they will also be fundamentally ornamental, but other times they can constitute a relevant part within the content of the dish.

In order to consume flowers, they must be produced for that purpose or controlled to ensure that their consumption is safe. Plants grown for ornamental purposes are treated with products that should not be consumed since they could represent a risk to our health.

Edible flower varieties

There are many flowers that are edible, many of them are plant flowers that are used regularly in the kitchen and the flowers tend to have a flavor similar to the plant, generally milder, let’s see some of them:

In salad

  • Basil: the flowers have a flavor similar to the leaves of this plant but more subtle, it is ideal for salads.
  • Begonia : its flowers are slightly bitter and with a citrus flavor. They are used in fruit salads, salads or garnishes .
  • Chrysanthemum or magnolia petals and jasmine, hibiscus and pansy flowers are used to create flower salads as a garnish for poultry and fish. Pansies, in fact, are very versatile and also accompany meat dishes, cheese boards, etc.

With meat, fish, rice, etc.

  • Rosemary : we are used to using rosemary leaves but the flowers are edible and give us a milder flavor. They are very suitable for dressing meats, pizzas, ice cream and desserts.
  • Dill : This little yellow flower knows how to plant and like her it is a fantastic accompaniment to fish and also shellfish, soups and sauces.
  • Dandelion : This deep yellow wildflower has a sweet, honeyed taste and is ideal for salads and rice dishes.

Garnish

  • Zucchini and squash : its flowers are large, fleshy and a little orange in color. They have a somewhat sweet taste and are smooth in texture. They can be fried, battered and even eaten stuffed.
  • Sunflower : the petals of this well-known flower have a bitter taste, but this fades aftersteam them for a few minutes. The sunflower bud can be cooked whole, just like an artichoke.
  • Carnation, carnation or Chinese carnation : they are of different colors and shades and their spicy flavor is slightly reminiscent of cloves and pepper. It can be used as a complement to salads, butter, cookies, but it can also be used as a garnish for a dish.

For dessert

  • Lavender : This aesthetic blue flower has an intense and somewhat acidic flavor. It can be used as an accompaniment to meats but it is also a good resource in desserts and pastries.
  • Violet : this beautiful flower that gives its name to its color, has a slightly minty flavor and is used in jams, ice cream, sorbets, etc.
  • Geranium : Geranium flowers can be almost any color and usually offer a fruity flavor and aroma, specifically citrus. They can be used as a garnish, in salads and also in pastries.

To flavor

  • Poppy : we frequently use its seeds but the petals are also used to flavor wines and oils.
  • Orange blossom: these small white flowers are used to make orange blossom water, which gives aroma to Arab breads and pastries, mainly.
  • Borage : this bluish flower with a taste similar to cucumber is also used to give aroma, in this case to some drinks.

How to take them

The flowers can be used as an ornamental part, adding a touch of color to it, or as a substantial part of it, so that they are an aperitif, garnish or even a main dish . Some can be eaten raw but others must be steamed, for example, or even fried or coated.

Buying and conservation advice

Flowers are usually fragile and perishable, so we must choose flowers in good condition, with good color and smell. It is preferable to collect them in the morning before the sun is strong . Generally we will discard the stems, pistils and stamens and the whitish base of the petals since these portions are usually more bitter than the petals and are not pleasant to taste.

Before using them we must wash them well with water and dry them carefully so as not to spoil their petals and letting them drain upside down. The flowers do not keep for too long so it is preferable to buy only the ones that we are going to consume or keep them carefully in the fridge.

ATTENTION…

There are many varieties of plants, very similar to each other, and can be confusing. As with mushrooms, with wild flowers there is a risk of poisoning if we are not experts in the field and we know how to differentiate what type it is.

The recipe

BAKED TURKEY WITH ROSEMARY, LAMINATED POTATO, CANONIES AND FLOWERS
Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Potatoes
  • Canons
  • Olive oil with rosemary
  • Edible flowers: rosemary and pansies

Preparation
Chop the turkey and place it in the oven at 180ºC, after having sprinkled it with a little oil and pouring rosemary on it. After a while we add the potatoes clean and whole with skin. Once everything is cooked, about 20 minutes (they will depend on the power of the oven and the size of the pieces), we peel and laminate the potatoes taking care not to burn them and serve them at the base of the plate, on top and on a plate we place the clean lamb’s lettuce and turkey on the other side. Season everything with the rosemary oil and sprinkle with rosemary flowers.

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