May 14, 2007

Cooking with Flowers

Yes, 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 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 hints
Edible flowers as a garnish make any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavor of the flower compliments the dish.

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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.

1 comment:

glamour girly said...

I used to work for a caterer in Mexico when I was in high school, and she also put edible flowers somewhere in the wedding reception. So much fun!