Flowers have been a part of cuisines around the world since many centuries. Asians have used rose petals in most of their sweet dishes to add a sweet flavor and aroma, likewise many nations make use of different flowers which are healthy to consume in their diets and dishes. Let us take a look on growing edible flowers which are edible and can be used in our diets.
List of few edible flowers which you can make use of
Basil flowers are edible ones which come in a variety of colors like white, pink and lavender. Fresh tender buds have the smell and flavor similar to that of the leaves. These flowers are used to top dress salads, to make soups for toddlers and to make stews. Some people add purple blossoms to oils and vinegar to get a distinct flavor and a lavender tint. You can even sprinkle flowers on any dish just before removing of the flame.
The best roses to consume are the ones which are young and fresh. Rose petals are used in many forms either by drying them or using fresh or even crystallizing them. Rose petals have been a part of many dishes around the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. They are mixed into teas and beverages to make a great infusion or used as syrup for sweet dishes. If you want to garnish a dish or a birthday cake choose the red rose petals which are very tasty and appealing.
Not all marigolds are edible and do not confuse pot marigolds for French marigolds. Pot Marigolds have been used since centuries to impart vibrant colour to soups and broths. Adding marigold petals while cooking rice or making stews will give a mild flavor and an enticing colour.
Sunflower buds and petals are edible as the seeds. Buds give out a taste as that of the artichokes so you can boil or steam them and serve along with butter or grate and dress them with salads. The petals also give out some taste which is neither bitter nor sweet and can be added to salads to give a distinctive flavor.
Dandelion weeds are very nutritious and used by many around the world. Dandelion flowers are also edible like its roots and leaves. The flowers and petals are used in garnishing dishes and salads. Fresh flowers will give a better taste than aged ones.
Hibiscus is a famous plant which is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicines. Hibiscus flowers have a cranberry flavor and are used in beverages like herbal teas. Soak these flowers in water and add lime for a flavor to enjoy a great drink during summer months. Hibiscus buds are also used to impart rhubarb like flavor to various drinks.
Banana blossoms also called as banana hearts are edible fruit flowers which is used commonly in Southeast Asian and Indian cooking’s. It is actually considered as a vegetable in these regions and is made use of in curries, stews and soups. The outer covers are peeled off and as deeper you go the petals will have light shade along with tiny banana babies. The yellow babies along with light shaded petals are edible while brown ones should be avoided. These flowers undergo oxidation very soon when in contact with the air so rub some lime juice over them or cook immediately.
Squash blossoms, yellows as well as orange ones can be cooked along with other ingredients or consumed in raw form. It is also called as a poor man’s saffron. It has a tangy spicy taste which gets along with rice dishes, pastas and soups. Freshly picked flowers are good to be used in dishes and also used as herbal remedies.
Uses and risks using flowers
Flowers are added to foods to enhance the flavor, aroma and to add color so as to make the dishes to look appealing. People around the world make use of flowers either in dried form or fresh petals to garnish salads or desserts. Certain edible flowers are added to drinks or beverages to add fresh flavor like any other culinary herbs. Faded flowers are generally not used in dishes as they may taste bitter and will impart a different flavor. Flowers offer wide range of essential elements to our body like any other plant foods available in nature. Not all flowers are edible and impart vitamins and minerals but some do exceedingly give numerous health benefits. Dandelion flowers are the best example as they are loaded with antioxidants, flavonoids, beta carotene and other essential vitamins including folic acid. Certain flowers like violets are known to have phytochemicals like rutin which helps to strengthen the capillary walls. Rose petals are also a loaded with essential vitamins like A, E and C. Apart from imparting a strong aroma and taste, they also contain bioflavonoid which is good for our body. Lavender is another great flower which can actually benefit our nervous system as they contain vitamin A, calcium and iron.
Edible flowers are safe to eat when consumed in small quantities. Certain flowers which are edible can be used only in meager amounts, consuming them in excess may cause serious ailments. Edible flowers can turn as diuretics and other harmful substances so always consume in optimum amounts. Flowers contain harmful insects and chemical pesticides so wash them before use. Also make sure you don’t choose poisonous varieties instead of edible ones.
Precautions while consuming edible flowers
- Do not consume flowers brought form florists or parks as they may be polluted or been treated with pesticides.
- Grow flowers yourself in the garden without treating any chemicals.
- Make sure you know whether a flower is consumable or not before trying out. Gather information before experimenting new things.
- Consume only the petals and remove other parts like stamens and pistils.
- Those who have allergies make sure they suit you, if not then do not try consuming them.
- Pluck fresh flowers and use them, as some flowers lose their quality if stored.
- Wash thoroughly before using them as they may contain insects and pests.
- For those flowers which can be stored make sure you sprinkle ice water and keep them in an air tight container for refrigeration.
How to Grow Edible Flowers
Edible flowers can be grown in the same way as those like the ornamental ones. Mostly all edible flowers require a soil ph in the range of 5.5 to 6 and use a mulch layer to reduce growth of weeds. Water them or place them in such an area where soil is not splashed onto the plant while watering. Do not spray water on the plants as making them moist will cause diseases and infections. Since you are growing flowers to make use of them in your dishes make sure you do not apply pesticides or any other chemicals. Choose some symbiotic insects like lady bugs which can benefit you by controlling the pests. Always place the edible flower gardens separate from other plants and try to grow them toxin free.
Not all flowers are edible some are highly poisonous so always make a good reference before using or trying out any. Edible flowers for sale have been used around the world for various purposes to such as cake, candy etc. and add value to their cuisines. They are not only nutritious but also a natural supply of essential compounds which can benefit our body. Chose wisely and make use of them in a best possible way.