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 lifestyles for 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.
If any of you watch foreign movies, you will note in the Indian movie Monsoon Wedding that two characters pick marigolds and pop them in their mouths. In the Middle East, India, or Eastern Europe, you may have heard about or even tried rosewater or orange flower water. What about honey? There are liqueurs, herbal mixes, butters, and 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 excrement. 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. If the flowers look bruised, or eaten by an insect, don’t eat them. Part of eating flowers is to enjoy the beauty of them.
8. There are some flowers that are edible and some are poisonous. Before you eat any flower, please make sure to research whether the flower is safe to eat. When in doubt, go without.
4 cups vodka or dry white wine
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 two days. Add the sugar to the jar and shake. Allow this mixture to steep for a minimum of two weeks. Shake the jar each day twice to make the sugar dissolve. Strain into a clean decanter.
Instant Chartreuse or your own flavored Stoli!
Rose of Sharon
1/2 to 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals
1 pound sweet unsalted butter, room temperature
Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature overnight to allow the flavors to fuse. It is good for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze for several months.
Wonderful on breads or used in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.[/etInfoTable]
1/2 to 1 cup fresh or dried petals
1 pound 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 and salad dressings, or on croissants, scones, muffins, and bread.[/etInfoTable]
Makes 4–5 half pints
2 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup edible flowers
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup 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.
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 constantly 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.
1/2 to 1 cup dried flowers
1 quart 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.
Use in salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta, stir-frying.
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
1/2 to 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 two 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!
Jennifer Wickes is a food writer, recipe developer, and award winning cook. For more of recipes visit: http://jenawix.wordpress.com
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