Edible Flowers in Your Garden
Flowers can be an integral part of cooking. While most of us are aware that violets can be candied and nasturtiums can be eaten in salads, there's a bounty of flower varieties that are both edible and delicious.
Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth with Flowers
Violets are not the only flower that can be candied. Many spring flowers with small, delicate blossoms have a sweet, somewhat spicy flavor that is enhanced by dipping them in sugar. It goes without saying that any flowers that you gather for eating should have been grown without the use of pesticide - by growing them yourself, you can be sure that they're untreated. A Candy Flower Garden that blooms throughout the summer can include:
Violets - Purple, blue or white, violets are among the first flowers to bloom in the spring. They spread easily, and grow happily when transplanted into a garden bed - and you do want to confine them to a bed unless you love the look of a full carpet of blooms spreading across your lawn.
Pansies - A relative of violets, pansies are just as delicately flavored and can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for violets. They make beautiful border flowers to boot.
Angelica - These delicate, lacy white flowers can be sprinkled in salads - but the stems and shoots make a delicious traditional candy that tastes a bit like licorice with a hint of mint.
Roses - Candied rose petals and rose syrup were mainstays in Victorian cooking. Sweet delicately flavored rose syrup gives baklava its characteristic flavor, and is a perfect foil for cardamom in Indian recipes.
To candy flowers from your garden:
Violets and pansies can be candied whole. Roses should be separated into petals. Most recipes for candied flowers call for the use of raw egg whites. Using a confectioner's powdered egg white instead reduces risk of salmonella.
Mix powdered egg white according to package directions (equivalent of one egg white).
Spread a cup of superfine sugar in a flat bottomed pan. Carefully dip each flower into the egg white, then press into the sugar. Use a fork to gently turn the flower so that all surfaces of the petals are covered. Lift out of sugar and lay on a screen or drying rack till completely dry. Apple and cherry blossoms can also be candied the same way.
A Soup, Salad and Savory Flower Garden
Early summer squash blossoms may be dipped in egg and flour, then fried in olive oil with garlic. The blossoms have a sweet, nutty flavor that is like nothing else. Other garden flowers that are delicious in soups and salads include:
Borage - Like the leaves, borage flowers are delicious in salads and cold soups. They have a cool, cucumber-like taste that translates well from flower garden to kitchen table.
Carnations - The flavor is as spicy as the scent. Carefully separate the petals from the bitter white of the flower's base and sprinkle in salads for a surprising touch of color and spice.
Daylilies - Like squash blossoms, day lilies have a mildly sweet, nutty flavor that many people think varies by color. Dredged in flour and dipped in egg, fried daylilies are quite succulent and unique in flavor.
These are just a small sampling of the many edible flowers from your garden. Be careful in your taste-testing. If you are not sure if a flower is edible, do not eat it.
Ed Rooney is the creator of www.garden-helper.com">http://www.garden-helper.com - an online gardening resource for gardeners to learn, share, plan, and shop.