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Edible Flowers. Take a new look at your garden

One of the hottest trends of this season is cooking with flowers. You don’t have to go to expensive restaurants anymore to enjoy delicious and stylish dishes, fancy decorated by flowers. All you need is already growing in your garden. Well… also some tips I would like to share with you.
Before you start to cook a new culinary chef-d'oeuvre to surprise your friends or family, check the few things.

Recognize that flowers are edible! (In case if your guests are annoying neighbours, playing in a bagpipes& vuvuzela band, you would like to get rid asap, skip this rule together with the next three paragraphs. ;) )
A lot of flowers are edible, but also plenty of them are toxic. For most flowers listed as being edible, they are referring to the petals only. Remove the pistils and stamens before eating as well as any attached sepals.

Second, make sure the flowers are free of chemicals and bugs. Never use flowers for cooking from a flower shop, nurseries or roadsides. If you buy a potted plant from a greenhouse, wait several weeks before using the flowers. These plants are often given growth inhibitors so they don’t outgrow their pots.

Always taste the flowers before use them. They might have different spice depends of many factors - conditions of growing, variety, time of harvest etc. Just make sure they will compliment your dish.

Now it’s time to discover the garden to find out, what you have there and how it can be used. There are some groups of edible flowers traditionally used in cooking.

Herb flowers (anise, basil, bears garlic, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, bee balm) – they taste very similar to the herb, sometimes a bit stronger and can be eaten as well as foliage. The benefit is the dish spiced and garnished with flowers looks extraordinarily and awesome, just like the in the posh restaurant. Flowers of these group taste very well with meat, in salads and soups.

Violas and Pansies– beautiful tender flowers in a wide range of colors can illuminate any ceremony. They have delicate, lightly sweet, floral, wintergreen flavor. Try them with vegetables, for candying, make delightful violet syrup or ice-cream. And of course make great decorations on top of appetizers and cakes. The petals can be frozen in ice cubes (as well as rose petals) to be used in drinks and cocktails.

Marigolds – a good alternative to saffron, especially in North-African cuisine, in dishes with lamb and chicken, also in salads to add some fresh tang. They have citrus flavor and taste. Pull off the petals and break off and remove the bitter portion that comes to a right angle.

Roses – usually come with deserts. The flavor is sweet with delicate tings from minty to bitter. Dark roses have crisper flavor. Grind up rose petals with sugar in a food processor and add water for sweet, rose-flavored syrup. Also you can add petals into the tea, biscuits or chocolate.

Squash and Zucchini Blossoms – the most common cooked flower. The taste is similar to the squash. A popular way of preparing them is to stuff the blossoms with meet or cheese and fry them.

Lavender – Steep for lavender tea or use to lightly flavor ice creams, honey and cakes.

Borage – Wonderful classical spice, adding a lot of fresh flavor in salads or in herb rubs for roast meats. Perfect in lemonades.

Calendula (Pot or Garden Marigolds) – This flower has nutty, slightly bitter taste. It is a good compliment to seafood and homemade bread. The petals are very rich with color and works perfect to decorate rise, pasta, soups and butter.

Monarda (Bee balm) – the taste is very close to bergamot, fresh and citric. Only one leaf will add the distingue taste of Earl Gray to your tea.

Daylilies – have a sweet lettuce flavor with citrus scent, common cooked the same as squash blossoms. Dried daylily buds, called golden needles, are sold in many Asian markets. Soak in hot water for 15 minutes and add to Chinese dishes like hot-and-sour soup.

Nasturtiums – have a slightly peppery taste. Use red, golden orange, yellow, lemon and creamy white flowers to create unique bright pallet. Combine different colored petals with butter to create a very vibrant dish. For a unique hors d’oeuvre, pipe an herb butter or pate onto the center of nasturtium petals.

Daisy – has light huts taste, perfect to use in salads and with rise. The young daisy buds, marinated in wine or vinegar, can be good alternative to capers.

Using flowers in cooking is a good way to add new look, taste, style and emotions to the dishes. Make perfect not only the taste, but also the dish presentation.
Next time I will share with you some recipes of cooked flowers.

At the meantime I wish you all the best.
Be unique, creative and stylish.

Cheers,
Lesia
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