Palat­able petals for food & bev­er­ages

Flow­ers with a sweet flavour as well as those with a flo­ral taste are un­beat­able for flavour­ing fruity desserts, cake bat­ter and cock­tails. Use cit­rus- and mint-flavoured blooms in sal­sas, fish dishes and yo­ghurt sauces.

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - Edible Flowers -

Flow­ers have been used for culi­nary pur­poses for cen­turies. The Ro­mans were par­tic­u­larly par­tial to vi­o­lets, the Dutch ac­tu­ally ate their tulips, and Ori­en­tal cui­sine has long made use of daylilies. So what's our pick of the bunch?

Bor­age: The sky blue, star-shaped flow­ers of bor­age have a re­fresh­ing cu­cum­ber taste. Scat­ter them in fruit and green sal­ads, or set in ice cubes for sum­mer drinks. They are an ideal ac­com­pa­ni­ment to raita, a condi­ment in In­dian cook­ing.

Cal­en­dula: The petals of Cal­en­dula of­fic­i­nalis were tra­di­tion­ally used as a sub­sti­tute for saf­fron for colour­ing food. They add a golden hue to soups and rice dishes, and can be added to sal­ads, omelettes and cheese dishes for their pi­quancy. Re­move petals from flow­er­head and snip off any white parts.

Chives: The lilac-pink flow­ers are some­what crunchy and im­part a mild onion flavour. They look great atop baked pota­toes, in green sal­ads, scram­bled eggs and pasta dishes. Chive flower but­ter looks spec­tac­u­lar and can be served with just about any­thing.

Dan­de­lion: Re­garded to­day as weed, dan­de­lion flow­ers were once com­monly used to make dan­de­lion wine and tea. The petals, which im­part a sweet, bit­ter taste, can be added to sal­ads.

Daylily: Both the petals and buds are ed­i­ble, tast­ing a bit like snow­peas with a pep­pery af­ter­taste. Add to stir-fries, pasta dishes, green sal­ads and soups. Daylilies open in hot water, so once picked, plunge them in hot water to open.

Di­anthus: The petals add a sweet clover-like flavour to fruit sal­ads, pud­dings and herb but­ters. Re­move the petals and snip off the bit­ter white heel.

Elder­flower: Has a musky scent and al­most-vanilla flavour which lends it­self to hot and cold drinks, in­clud­ing elder­flower cor­dial and elder­flower bub­bly. The flow­ers com­bine well with many fruits, in­clud­ing straw­ber­ries, goose­ber­ries, rhubarb and rasp­ber­ries. Re­move stalks – these can be bit­ter.

Hol­ly­hock: The petals have a very light flo­ral flavour. They look fab­u­lous in green and fruit sal­ads, and crys­tallised to dec­o­rate cakes and desserts. Re­move the stigma from the cen­tre of each flower and snip off the green parts.

Nas­tur­tium: With a bold pep­pery flavour, nas­tur­tiums go well with veges, omelettes and cream cheese. The bright colours make great ac­cents in sal­ads. Whole flow­ers can be stuffed with a savoury mousse, and the leaves can be eaten, too – both flow­ers and leaves are great in sand­wiches.

Pansy: The whole flower is ed­i­ble, which makes it a great adorn­ment atop cakes and savoury dishes. They have a mild minty flavour, so work well with savoury or sweet dishes.

Rose: Rose­wa­ter, rose syrup, rose petal jam and rose sugar all have their ori­gins from the petals of roses. They make beau­ti­ful crys­tallised flow­ers. All va­ri­eties are ed­i­ble but the sweeter the scent, the sweeter the taste. Re­move the white heel from the base of each petal.

Vi­ola: Johnny-jump-up or heart’s ease ( Vi­ola tri­color) has a faintly sweet taste and, like pan­sies, the whole flower can be eaten. Add to sal­ads, or crys­tallise. Sweet vi­o­let ( Vi­ola odor­ata) part­ners well with both sweet and savoury foods.


• Pick flow­ers in the cool of the day, af­ter the dew has evap­o­rated. Place long-stemmed flow­ers in a con­tainer of water and keep in a cool en­vi­ron­ment. Place short-stemmed flow­ers in a plas­tic bag with a damp pa­per towel, and store in the fridge. Use flow­ers within a few hours.

• Choose flow­ers that are newly opened. Flow­ers that are past their prime will have di­min­ished flavour and fra­grance.

• Be­fore us­ing, wash flow­ers gently in cold water and pat dry on ab­sorbent pa­per.

• Re­move petals from the flower just be­fore us­ing to pre­vent wilt­ing.

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