Tuesday, July 5, 2011

10 Edible Flowers

These flowers at the market came from the Fry Family Farm in Talent, Oregon. They aren't edible.

And these flowers are cultivated by a book lover in Langley, on Whidbey Island. They aren't edible either. Flowers are a feast for the eyes, and I've long wanted to do a post on them. Like Mair Farm Cat, it's about time I gave summer flowers the recognition they deserve.

Many flowers not only dress up summer salads, they also impart intriguing flavors, and just their presence in salad says high end.

Even if your budget can't accommodate white tablecloth restaurants, you can grow edible flowers that give that an elegant feel to any meal, home cooked or high end. Sprinkle edible blooms over soups, salads, ice cream, fruit, and even roasted vegetables.

I went looking for edible flowers online and I came across this cool link, to share. If you want to explore edible blossoms for your own garden. Tom maybe thinks I've gone a little overboard planting edible blossoms, but my Cooking Assistant is intrigued.

Here are ten edible flowers to consider for your garden.

1. Lavender--purple, floral tones, it was amazing in this Coconut-Strawberry Soup. The flavor is like a picnic in the woods over vanilla ice cream, and I'm in lust with this flower and I look for excuses to use it all the time. For lavender inspiration, check out Kathy Gehrt's book Discover Cooking with Lavender, and if you live in the Northwest, check out the two lavender festivals in Sequim, Washington.

2. Pansies/Violets--mixed colors, sweet flavor, best salad toppers. JoanE from Rent's Due Ranch told me she thought pansies tasted like nothing. I'd like to add they taste like sweet nothings because they do have a hint of sweetness.

Someone has already been munching on these pansies. It's good to know my garden feeds many creatures, but a flower with holes in the petals just doesn't really look right on a salad passing for high end.

3. Borage--blue or white, cucumber flavor, good on Creamy Spinach Soup. I seriously need to add this flower to my garden. I've only eaten it in mixes from the farmers' market but I love the blue color and unusual cucumber flavor.

4. Nasturtiums--yellow/orange, peppery, excellent on mixed roasted vegetables. While these blooms are pretty, and said to be good for many health conditions, I've never developed a taste for this flower. But judge for yourself and let me know.

5. Anise Hyssop-- blue, light licorice flavor, good garnish for cucumber soup. I got three anise hyssop plants because I love the licorice flavor. It's just plain fun that a flower tastes like licorice. I can't wait to experiment with this one in fruit desserts and soups.

6. Bee Balm (Bergamot)--red/pink, minty flavor, good with fruits like strawberries. I just planted bee balm to our yard to attract hummingbirds. It's got buds now and though I've never tasted the flowers, I can't wait. But then, maybe I should let the hummingbirds have them first.

7. Chives--blue, onion flavored, excellent on Potato-Leek Soup. These flowers are delicious, but it's hard to eat all of them because by the time it blooms it has lots of flowers.

8. Marigold--yellow/orange, citrus flavor, good over coleslaw or carrot salad.

9. Peony--white/pink/magenta, said to add a "haunting perfume" to summer salads. (This one surprised me since I'd never seen peony on an edible flower list.)

10. Arugula, collards, kale--yellow/white, tastes like the leaves of the plant, good sprinkled on pasta or over roasted vegetables. These yellow collard flowers are gone now, but we had so many, I was using them every day for awhile. I need to create some good recipes for them next year.

This is the salad I topped with flowers--pansies and arugula. Who needs a high end restaurant meal when you can make food this pretty at home?

Somebody's giving me the stink eye because he was left out. His sense of entitlement was shattered. I get it, it's a cruel world and he's the first one to let me know.

Would he eat flowers? Anything but onion relatives.

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