Eating in: Feasting on flowers
The popular saying ‘You are what you eat’ is, if taken as seriously as it should be, food for thought indeed as who on earth wants to even remotely resemble any of the greasy food served up on a regular basis. Then again, not many people want to resemble a fresh green salad either!
If, however, eating some of the glorious flowers grown in your garden — as long as they are grown organically and so are absolutely chemical free, of course — can transform you into a flower yourself, then why not give it a try? To make this even more enticing, some of the edible flowers around are perfectly delicious when properly served up.
Being sure that some readers are already raising their eyebrows in horror at the thought of putting flowers anywhere on the table other than in a vase, let’s take a look at which flowers are edible and how they can be turned into culinary delights in no time at all.
Few people know that daylilies are 100 per cent edible: roots, leaves, stems, flowers and all. The green parts, cooked up like spinach do, admittedly, taste pretty awful but the gorgeous flowers are quite another story. Daylilies should be harvested only when you intend using them immediately.
Cut them from the plant taking as little of the stalk as possible then, leaving the delicate, rather sweet and peppery tasting flower whole, remove all green parts. Cut up some mozzarella cheese and place small pieces inside each flower head; if you don’t have mozzarella you can use an alternative. The trumpet-shaped flower head should be half-filled with cheese; take care not to overstuff it otherwise the next step will be impossible and the flower petals will inevitably be damaged in the process.
Next, very carefully indeed, tie the flower closed using some plain cotton thread. Put just a little olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and a smidgen of garlic into a frying pan, let it heat up until the garlic is browning nicely then lay the stuffed flower heads in the pan. Cover to prevent the hot oil mixture spitting, allow to cook for just a couple of minutes, gently turn the flowers over, give them another couple of minutes and serve immediately as a starter or as part of a main course. Absolutely delicious to eat and beautiful to look at!
The more usual way to serve up fresh garden flowers is, of course, in salads and the tastiest to use, ones that are also found in many gardens all over the country although perhaps at different times of the year, include the following:
Roses: All rose petals are edible irrespective of colour and perfume. They are best added to salads immediately before serving and, if using a salad dressing then toss the salad prior to putting the rose petals on top. Rose petals can also be used to decorate cakes, ice creams and other assorted sweets. If you are a cold drink fanatic then rose petals can be used to flavour these too.
Carnations/Pinks: Close cousins of each other, the petals of these flowers have all the same uses as roses and their beautiful perfume adds to their interesting taste.
Cistus: Flower petals have an almond taste and flavour.
Chrysanthemums: Some people find them bitter but, on the whole, they are not and, as well as using flowers in salads they can be cooked as pakoras.
Chives: Add whole flower heads to salads — they have a light onion flavour and scent. You can use the heads of both ordinary and garlic chives and these too can also be added to pakoras.
Borage: The blue or white flowers add a wonderful touch to salads, cold drinks or frozen in ice cubes.
Sunflowers: Add petals to salads, cakes, biscuits or served scattered on ice cream.
Elderflowers: These are very sweet. Cut away all green parts and just use the tiny flower heads in salads, cold drinks, on ice cream and other sweets.
Many other garden flowers are edible too but please do check before eating them as we do not want any accidents!