Flowers are often added to cuisines in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Now, when I discuss edible flowers I am not referring to the popular fruit arrangement, Edible Arrangements in which various types of fruits are shaped and displayed as a bouquet of fruit. The edible flowers discussed in this article will consist of wild and domestic types of flowers that are safe to consume in one way or another. Some of them will even provide benefits when consumed. So, let’s put on our gardening gloves, grab our pruning shears and dig in!
Why is it important to know about edible flowers?
The first thought to answer this question is survival. I believe that if a person is lost, maybe they were hiking and lost their sense of direction, that knowing what plants and berries are safe to eat could greatly boost the likelihood of their survival and ultimately their rescue.
Another reason this knowledge could come in handy is for culinary students and bakers. They often use edible flowers as creative decor or additions to their recipes. Investing in a wilderness survival book about edible flowers and plants such as The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Mushrooms, Fruits and Nuts: Finding, Identifying, and Cooking, Edition 3 written by Katie Letcher Lyle would be a great source of knowledge on the subject.
Types of edible flowers
Squash blossoms are a very common and delectable edible flower. They can be stuffed, fried, added to pasta, and even put on pizza. They are often sourced from zucchini plants and pumpkin patches.
Marigold petals can be eaten raw, fresh, dried, or blanched. They are used in both sweet and savory dishes. The white end of the petal should be removed as they are bitter tasting. Marigolds are believed to host medicinal benefits such as relieving swelling, headaches, and toothaches.
Honeysuckle sweet berry shrub blooms into white flowers which then begin to produce blueberries during the summer months. Some species of honeysuckle stems and vines shouldn’t be eaten, it is best to avoid the stems and vines altogether. Animals and children should avoid the berries
Rose petals are not just a romantic addition to a wedding aisle. They can, in fact, be eaten regardless of the color or variety of rose. These popular flowers are often added to dishes to provide a soft scent, along with strawberry and green apple flavors. You do need to avoid consuming rose petals treated with pesticides.
Tulips may also be pesticide-treated and if so should not be eaten, however, if they are pesticide-free then they are safe to eat. Tulips are a pretty and delicate addition to any dish’s visual impression.
Lavender leaves and popular flowers are edible. They can be eaten fresh or dried and have a “good” bitter flavor.
Chrysanthemum flowers, now named the Crown Daisy, are typically eaten and considered to be leaf vegetables. The flavor may be sweet, bitter, tangy, or even peppery depending on the plant you choose. Each one will have its own unique flavor. This is a plant with many nutritional benefits including being low in cholesterol. However, they should be consumed in moderation as they can have high levels of sodium.
Recipe for stuffed, fried, zucchini squash blossoms
(thanks to www.foodnetwork.com)
Fried Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sparkling water
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
- ⅓ cup goat cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 zucchini blossoms
- Vegetable oil for frying
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water and salt until smooth. Set aside
- In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, basil, and green onion. Mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons filling into each blossom. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to seal.
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat oil over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms into the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels.
- Season with salt and serve with your favorite marinara sauce or vinaigrette.