Please Eat the Flowers

One of the great joys for gardeners who are also cooks (and vice versa) is edible flowers. We get the great pleasure of watching them grow into their natural beauty, and then the equally satisfying fun of finding ways to incorporate them into our dishes. It’s pretty much guaranteed to Wow your guests.

As I write this, the month of May is coming to a close, and with it the springtime flowers. In my garden, I still have pansies and violas blooming their hearts out, but that won’t last much longer.  So I’m eager to use them while I can. Here are a few ideas.

[1] Quick treat to go with afternoon tea when a friend comes over: Start with store-bought ginger snaps, make a quick lemon cream cheese frosting, and press one perfect yellow viola into the frosting.

[2] For your next dinner party, serve  carrot-orange-ginger soup as a first course. Float a rich purple pansy on top of each serving. If you have a copy of my Soup Night cookbook, the recipe is on page 206. If you don’t have the book, send me a note (just “reply” to this email in your usual way) and I’ll send it to you.

[3] And of course the classic way to use edible flowers is to sprinkle them lavishly into salads. Violas, with their tender sweet faces, are especially pretty this way.

Soon our gardens will be bursting over with warm-season plants, and there are many more edible flowers awaiting your culinary creativity.  Roses.  Daylilies. Calendula.  Dianthus. Tuberous begonias (my personal favorite). And later on, chrysanthemums. Look for more ideas in the next newsletters.

But there are rules. Pay attention.

  1. Don’t use anything you do not know for a fact is absolutely safe. Don’t even use it as a garnish.
  2. Be extra careful with children. Make sure they understand that just because they watch you pick and eat flowers, they can’t do it with just anything they see.
  3. Do your homework. Not all parts of edible plants are safe (think rhubarb). And even if safe, not all parts of edible flowers have a pleasant taste or texture (think pistils and stamens of tulips).

If you have a favorite way to use edible flowers in your cooking, I’d love to hear from you!

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