De­li­cious A dish isn’t com­plete with­out a lit­tle petal power.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - DIY FOOD -

The very first flow­ers I re­mem­ber sam­pling as a child were red clover. My brother and I didn't so much eat them as sip them. We would spend hours pulling each del­i­cate lit­tle tube out of the flower head in or­der to suck out the de­li­cious smidgeon of nec­tar hid­ing there. Maybe our par­ents showed us this and maybe it was the bumblebees that gave us the clue, shar­ing right along with us as we sat in the long grass hav­ing our treat.

It wasn't long be­fore we had ex­tended this method of ex­trac­tion to hon­ey­suckle, com­frey and pineap­ple sage. Ev­ery now and then, a whole flower would get sucked in and munched down, start­ing me off on a life-long jour­ney of eat­ing flow­ers.

I'm known for my sal­ads out here in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds, which al­most al­ways in­clude flow­ers. I love to grow masses of pick-a-leaf-as-you-go greens all year round like red co­ral mizuna, rocket, mi­buna, min­ers let­tuce, corn salad and land cress. But even­tu­ally, in the way of all things, the plants start to go to seed, and on the way they pro­duce very tasty flow­ers which also end up in sal­ads, in my trade-mark weed pesto, or as dec­o­ra­tion on cakes. Flow­ers en­hance any gar­den in my mind, and if you can also eat them, then all the bet­ter. They add such a beau­ti­ful, al­most ex­otic flair to cer­tain dishes, and de­spite their diminu­tive size have nutri­tional ben­e­fits to boot.

Many flow­ers are high in vi­ta­mins C and A. Re­cent stud­ies have re­vealed that cer­tain flow­ers have an­tiox­i­dant prop­er­ties due to the high lev­els of phe­nols present, with cal­en­dula and Jerusalem ar­ti­choke two of the high­est.

Flow­ers have been used through­out his­tory for heal­ing pur­poses, such as treat­ing open wounds and in aro­mather­apy. We're all fa­mil­iar with the won­der­ful scents of roses and laven­der, and I am al­ways amazed at how the cares of the world just seem to van­ish when I pop my nose into a fra­grant rose bloom and in­hale. But why just smell the roses? Why not eat them as well?

Bor­age (or 'por­ridge' flow­ers as one of my sons called them in his tod­dler stage) is great as a pick-me-up when I'm feel­ing low. Yep, I'm def­i­nitely a flower eater and see­ing as there are over 50 dif­fer­ent kinds of ed­i­ble flow­ers, there's al­ways some­thing new to sam­ple.

While I'm quite happy wax­ing lyri­cal about the sweet lit­tle faces of johnny jump ups (heart­sease) or the spicy hit from a nas­tur­tium blos­som, I'd like to take the op­por­tu­nity on the fol­low­ing pages to in­tro­duce you to two wild ed­i­ble flow­ers grow­ing here in New Zealand, along with two of my tried and true favourite recipes.

Go forth and eat flow­ers!

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