THE GOOD LIFE

Country Living (UK) - - Contents -

Grow­ing ed­i­ble flow­ers

Flow­ers have made their way onto the kitchen ta­ble, and not just in a vase. Any­one who has watched tele­vi­sion shows such as The Great Bri­tish Bake Off or Masterchef will know that adding the right petals to a dish doesn’t just make it look beau­ti­ful – it en­hances the flavours, too. Grow­ing your own is a good way of try­ing your hand at this, as you can be con­fi­dent of the species (some plants are poi­sonous, so it pays to be cau­tious), be cer­tain that they haven’t been sprayed with pes­ti­cides (of­ten the case with cut flow­ers in su­per­mar­kets) and you can pick them the morn­ing be­fore you serve them, en­sur­ing the colours are at their bright­est and the flavours at their fresh­est.

FROM THE BOR­DERS

Take a look around your gar­den and you might be sur­prised to find that you al­ready have a sup­ply of ed­i­ble flow­ers. Make the most of the scented petals of roses and laven­der from your bor­ders in jel­lies, ic­ing and cakes – the more fra­grant va­ri­eties tend to have a stronger flavour. Bright red, or­ange and yel­low nas­tur­tiums add a pep­pery punch to sal­ads and also work well as a gar­nish for steak. Pretty vi­o­las are pop­u­lar as a dec­o­ra­tion for cakes and pud­dings, es­pe­cially when crys­tallised in sugar, but their let­tuce-like taste works well in sal­ads, too. For a bed­ding plant with a dif­fer­ence, try Elec­tric Daisies (£2.49, sut­tons.co.uk) – the bright yel­low flow­ers have a fizzy, al­most elec­tric taste on your tongue. Be warned – a few petals is enough!

FROM THE VEG­ETABLE PLOT

Don’t for­get about the flow­ers in your veg­etable patch. The big yel­low blooms of cour­gettes and squash are de­li­cious when stuffed

with ri­cotta and deep-fried in a tem­pura bat­ter. Pick a few flow­ers from pea and run­ner bean plants (not all of them, or you won’t get any pods later in the year) and you’ll ben­e­fit from a del­i­cate pea or bean flavour, which works well stirred through rice and cous­cous.

FROM THE HERB GAR­DEN

Dur­ing warmer months, herbs can grow so vo­ra­ciously that they start to flower. Al­though this di­verts en­ergy from the leaves, it does pro­vide you with some lovely ed­i­ble blooms. The flow­ers of an­nual herbs, in­clud­ing basil, co­rian­der and dill, are a toned-down ver­sion of the plant’s leaves. Sprin­kle them into sal­ads, or try freez­ing them into ice cubes for a botan­i­cal boost to G&TS. Bor­age flow­ers have a sur­pris­ing taste of cu­cum­ber, so are ideal in sal­ads; the pur­ple petals of chives have a mild onion flavour that goes per­fectly with fish, and the white flow­ers of gar­lic chives pro­vide a sub­tler flavour to dress­ings than cloves.

For more on how to use ed­i­ble flow­ers, see Sweeter Than Roses in this is­sue.

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