Edible Flowers

Original caption: Spring Flower Cake from Mart...
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Four years ago, I wrote an OK article about Edible Flowers for Suite101.com. It did reasonably well there. Then, I became bold and submitted another article to Home Cooking magazine. As luck would have it, they are publishing it in their May 2007 issue!

So, I thought I would write yet another article for the Gather-folk about edible flowers.

It’s so funny. Some people, including myself, never in a thousand years would even think you could eat a flower. How odd is that? Yet, to others, it has been a part of their life, culture and eating lifestyle their entire lives.

Do you eat artichokes? How about capers? Flower buds! How about broccoli, cauliflower, broccoflower? Flowers! And the spice saffron? The stamen of yet another flower! See, most of you have been eating flowers and you didn’t even know it!

Now, get this! If any of you watch foreign movies, you will note in the Indian movie, “Monsoon Wedding”, two characters pick marigolds and pop them in their mouth. In the Middle East, India, Eastern Europe, you may heard or even tried, rosewater or orange flower water. What about honey? There are liqueurs, herbal mixes, butters, syrups…the list goes on and on!

Now before you get too excited and start picking flowers and putting them in your soup, there are several things you must consider.

1.) NEVER pick flowers that have been exposed to animal excretement. That is a sure way to get sick.

2.) NEVER pick flowers that have had insecticides sprayed on them. If it can kill bugs, it can make you sick!

3.) IF you use fertilizers on your flowers, make sure that the fertilizers are for food consumption.

4.) Flowers on the side of the road have been exposed to trash and carbon monoxide. Who wants to eat that?

5.) If you are unsure if the flowers are edible, then do not eat them. Why take the risk.

6.) Check with your doctor. If you are allergic to dandelions, then eating them will probably make your allergies worse.

7.) Finally, if the flowers look bruised, or eaten by an insect, don’t eat it. Part of eating flowers is to enjoy the beauty of them.

Now, you need to know that some flowers are edible and some are poisonous. I have included a partial list of both. So, always remember: When in doubt, go without.

EDIBLE FLOWERS ~partial list~

  • Angelica
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Apple Blossom
  • Artichoke
  • Arugula
  • Bachelor Buttons AKA Cornflower
  • Banana
  • Basil
  • Bee Balm
  • Black Locust *flowers*
  • Borage
  • Burnet
  • Calendula
  • Carnation
  • Chamomile
  • Chicory
  • Chives
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cilantro / Coriander
  • Citrus
  • Clover
  • Cornflower / Bachelor Buttons
  • Dandelion
  • Daylily
  • Dianthus
  • Dill
  • Elderberry
  • English Daisy
  • Fennel
  • Freesia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gardenia
  • Garlic
  • Geraniums
  • Gladiolas
  • Hibiscus
  • Hollyhock
  • Honeysuckle
  • Hyssop
  • Iceland Poppy
  • Impatiens
  • Jasmine
  • Johnny Jump Up
  • Lavendar
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Lilac
  • Linden
  • Mallow
  • Marigold
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Mustard
  • Nasturtium
  • Oregano
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Orange Blossom
  • Pansy
  • Passionflower
  • Pea
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Primrose
  • Radish
  • Red Clover
  • Redbud
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Runner Bean
  • Safflower
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Scented Geranium
  • Snapdragon
  • Society Garlic
  • Squash Blossom
  • Sunflower
  • Sweet Marigold
  • Sweet William
  • Thyme
  • Tuberous Begonia
  • Tulip
  • Viola
  • Violet
  • Winter Savory
  • Yucca

RECIPES

CANDIED FLOWERS

  • 1 egg white (please use powdered egg whites to avoid salmonella)
  • 100 proof vodka
  • superfine granulated sugar
  • thin artist’s paintbrush
  • edible flowers
  • wire rack

Beat egg whites until frothy (see package for instructions). Using the vodka will help the flowers to dry quicker, hence add a couple of drops. Paint each flower individually with beaten egg white. After painting each egg white, coat with the sugar and allow to dry on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Think of the possibilities a cake mix can turn into when candied flowers are added to it!

FLORAL LIQUEUR

  • 4 cups vodka or dry white wine
  • 1-cup sugar
  • 1 – 2 cups edible flowers

Gently bruise the flower petals. Place in a jar with the alcohol and allow to steep for a minimum of 2 days. Add the sugar to the jar and shake. Allow this mixture to steep for a minimum of 2 weeks. Shake the jar each day twice to make the sugar dissolve. Strain into a clean decanter.

Instant Chartreuse, or your own flavored Stoli!

FLOWER BUTTER

  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals
  • 1 lb. sweet unsalted butter, room temperature

Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Allow the misture to stand at rom temperature overnight to allow the flavors to fuse. Chill for a couple of weeks or freeze for several months.

Wonderful on breads or used in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.

FLOWER HONEY

  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or dried petals
  • 1 lb. honey

Chop petals and add to honey. Using aluminum foil, cover jar and place in a pan of hot water until boiling. Once it reaches boiling, turn the heat off and allow the jar to sit in the water until it cools. Keep the honey in a cool dark place.

Try in tea, salad dressings, on croissants, scones, muffins and bread.

FLOWER JELLY

  • 2 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup edible flowers
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 3 ounces of liquid pectin
  • fresh flower petals

Bring wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and allow the flower petals to steep until the mixture is cool. Then, strain the petals out of the wine. Then add the flower infusion to a pot with the sugar and lemon juice. On high heat, bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Then, stir in the pectin. Bring back to a boil, stirring contantly for exactly 1 minute. Take the jelly off the heat and skim off any foam. Allow the jelly to cool slightly, then add more flower petals. 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.

Yields: 4 – 5 half pints

FLOWER OIL

  • 1/2 – 1 cup dried flowers
  • 1 qt. vegetable oil

Put flowers and oil into a bottle. Place the bottle in a pan filled with water and simmer water gently for at least 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover bottle tightly and allow the flavors to infuse for at least a week before using.

Uses: Salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta, stir-frying.

FLOWER SYRUP

  • 1-cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 – 1-cup flower petals, whole or crushed

Boil the water, sugar and flowers for 10 minutes, or until thickened into syrup. Using a cheesecloth, strain into a jar. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Can be added to iced tea or poured over pancakes.

Another idea: Try freezing petals in ice cube trays filled with water for a unique addition to your favorite lemonade or iced tea!

POISONOUS FLOWERS ~partial list~

  • Aconite
  • Anemone
  • Anthurium
  • Atamasco Lily
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Azalea
  • Baneberry
  • Bead Tree
  • Belladonna
  • Black Snakeroot
  • Bloodroot
  • Boxwood
  • Buttercup
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Caladium
  • Calla Lily
  • Carolina Jasmine
  • Castor Bean
  • Cherry Laurel
  • Chinaberry
  • Christmas Rose
  • Clematis
  • Daffodil
  • Deadly Nightshade
  • Death Cammus
  • Delphinium
  • Dogsbane
  • Dumbcane
  • Elephant Ears
  • False Hellebore
  • Four O’clock
  • Foxglove
  • Gloriosa Lily
  • Golden Chain Tree
  • Goldenseal
  • Heavenly Bamboo
  • Henbane
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Horse Nettle
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Jessamine
  • Jetbead
  • Jimson Weed
  • Jonquil
  • Kentucky Coffee Tree
  • Laburnum
  • Lantana
  • Larkspur
  • Leopardsbane
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Lobelia
  • Marsh Marigold
  • May Apple
  • Mescal Bean
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkhood
  • Morning Glory
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Nightshade
  • Ohio Buckeye
  • Oleander
  • Periwinkle
  • Philodendron
  • Poinsettia
  • Poison Hemlock
  • Potato
  • Privet
  • Rhododendron
  • Rock Poppy
  • Schefflera
  • Spring Adonis
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • Strawberry Bush
  • Sweet Pea
  • Tobacco
  • Tomato (blooms)
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Wahoo
  • Water Hemlock
  • Wild Cherry
  • Windflower
  • Wisteria
  • Wolfsbane
  • Yellow Allamanda
  • Yellow Oleander

Read Book Review: Cooking With Flowers.

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2 thoughts on “Edible Flowers

  1. >Hi Jen!Some friends and I did a jelly making day last autumn and one of our favorites was LAVENDER Flower jelly. But we did it with no wine. Just a really strong infusion of lavender. I could find the recipie we used if you're interested.Renee

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