Using fresh flowers is one of the easiest ways to decorate a dessert or garnish a cocktail. Have you ever been to a restaurant where they have served you a beautiful salad with flower petals scattered around the plate? Or maybe you have had a cake decorated with flowers on top? Perhaps you have visited a Tea Room and were served flower syrup. Edible flowers are the new rage in haute cuisine. The look is elegant; yet preparing flowers for eating is simple and fun to do.
The amazing part to edible flowers is that in spite of it being the new rage, eating flowers has been going on for centuries. The first mention of people consuming flowers was as far back as 140 BC! Did you realise that broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and broccoflower are all flowers? Or that the spice saffron is the stamen from the crocus flower? Capers are unopened flower buds to a bush native in the Mediterranean and Asian nations.
In regions such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe and India, floral waters such as rosewater and orange flower water are used to flavour candies to meats to beverages! France has a spice mixture known as “Herbs de Provence” which has dried lavender flowers in it. North Africa has an herbal mixture too, which contains rosebuds and lavender. The green liqueur, Chartreuse, contains carnations.
Cautions when Harvesting:
Do not harvest any flowers that:
- could have been exposed to animal excrement.
- have had insecticides sprayed on them.
- have had fertilisers sprayed on them unless specified for food consumption.
- from the side of roads where they have been exposed to trash, carbon monoxide etc.
- If you are unsure if it is edible, then do not eat it. Caution is always the best policy.
- If you have any allergies, consult your physician before consuming edible flowers.
- Do not eat any flowers from florists as they have been sprayed with pesticides.
- Do not pick any flowers that show signs of disease or have been eaten by insects.
Pick your flowers in the morning when their water content is at its highest. Then bathe the flowers gently in a salt-water bath. Immediately drop them in ice water for 1 minute. Dry on a paper towel. For best results, use your flower petals immediately (not the stamen or the stems), or store the whole flower in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight.
Flowers can be used for a multitude of dishes: from garnishes to salads. Try freezing petals in ice cube trays filled with water for a unique addition to your favourite lemonade or iced tea!
How to Harvest Nasturtium Seeds
- Prune immature green seed pods from the plant. Nasturtium seed pods develop roughly four months after the plant germinates. Immature seed pods are ready to harvest when they are green, round and plump. These immature seed pods may be eaten raw or pickled.
- Pick up mature seed pods from the ground. These mature seed pods may be saved and the seeds planted the following growing season.
- Spread the mature seed pods out on a paper plate. Place them in a sunny windowsill. Leave them to dry out completely. Shake the plate every day or so to ensure that the pods dry evenly on all sides.
- Crack the dried seed pods open. Store the seeds in a plastic container until you are ready to plant them.
- 1 egg white (please use powdered egg whites to avoid salmonella)
- 100 proof vodka
- superfine granulated sugar
- thin artist’s paintbrush
- violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea,
- pinks, scented geraniums
- wire rack
- Beat egg whites until frothy.
- Add a couple of drops of vodka to help the flowers dry quicker. Using fresh picked flowers, paint each flower individually with beaten egg white using the artist’s paintbrush.
- When thoroughly coated, sprinkle with fine sugar and place on the wire rack to dry. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the touch.
- They can be stored in an airtight container and put in the freezer for up to a year.
- A simple bakery cake can be turned into a work of art by garnishing with candies flowers.
Will last approximately 6 months!
Idea: Try a chocolate cake decorated with fresh raspberries and candied rose petals.
- 4 cups vodka or brandy
- 1-cup sugar
- 1 – 2 cups flowers
- Place lightly bruised petals in a jar with vodka or brandy and steep for 2 days.
- Then, add sugar and steep for 2 weeks, shaking vigorously once or twice a day to let sugar dissolve. Strain and filter into clean decanter.
- rose, carnation, lavendar and mint
- orange zest and mint
- ginger and pear
- peaches and lemon verbena
- raspberry and lemon balm
- use a dry white wine
- 1/2 – 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals
- 1 lb. sweet unsalted butter
- Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter.
- Let mix stand for several hours at room temperature, then refrigerate for several days to bring out the flavour.
- Can be frozen for several months.
Wonderful on breads or used in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.
- use cream cheese
- rose, lavendar or sunflower
- add some herbs: basil, thyme, garlic
- 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or dried petals
- 1 lb. honey
- Add chopped or crushed flowers to honey.
- Loosely cover jar and place in a pan half full of gently boiling water.
- Remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.
- Remove jar from water and let cool to room temperature.
- Allow jar of honey with flowers to sit for 1 week. Flowers can then be strained out if desired.
Will last indefinitely in a cool dark place.
Uses: Tea, salad dressings, on croissants, scones, muffins and bread.
Yields: 4 – 5 half pints
- 2 1/2 cups apple juice OR white wine
- 1 cup fresh rose petals or scented geranium flowers and leaves
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/4 lemon juice
- 1 – 2 drops food coloring (optional)
- 3 ounces of liquid pectin
- fresh flower petals (optional)
- Bring juice or wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and steep until liquid has cooled, then strain out flowers leaving only liquid.
- Combine 2 cups of this flower infusion with sugar, lemon juice and food coloring.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and as soon as the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin.
- Return to a rolling boil, stirring, and boiling for exactly 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam.
- Let jelly cool slightly and add more flower petals (if desired), then pour into sterilized jars.
- If petals do not stay suspended, stir jelly as it cools until petals stay in place. Process in hot water bath or seal with paraffin.
- 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or dried flowers
- 1 qt. vegetable oil
- Add flowers to bottle of oil and place in a pan of water.
- Simmer water with bottle in it gently for at least 30 minutes. Remove from stove and cool.
- Cover bottle tightly, and let steep a week before using. If dried flowers are used, they may be left in the oil.
- Fresh flowers should be drained after one week as they lose their color.
Uses: Salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta, stir-frying.
Nasturtium and herb blossom oils are excellent for sautéing.
Rose and carnation oils make nice salad dressings.
- 1-cup water (or rosewater)
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 – 1-cup flower petals, whole or crushed
- Boil all ingredients for 10 minutes, or until thickened into syrup.
- Strain through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Can be added to sparkling water or champagne for a delicious beverage. Or, it may be poured over fruit, pound cake or pancakes.