How Do I… Grow and Garnish with Edible Flowers?

Which flowers can I eat? 
Not all flowers are edible and there are quite a few that look pretty but taste horrible. Do your research and make sure you can positively identify any flowers before you eat them. Also, check whether cats or dogs have been active anywhere near the flowers you plan to eat. 

Some of the flowers I grow and love are marigold, borage, linaria, violet, zucchini, cucumber, sorrel, nasturtium and dandelion. All of these are edible and some even provide nice leaves or vegetables as well.

Which ones can’t I eat? 
Toxic flowers include those from the nightshade family such as tomato and black-bean flowers. Others that I’d steer clear of are oleander and nettle flowers.

Which flowers are the easiest to grow? 
Before you plant anything, spend some time in your garden and find out how much sun it gets, and where. Most plants need about six hours of good sunlight. Also, it’s a good idea to plant near a water source. Once you’re familiar with your garden’s conditions, you should be able to find the flowers, vegetables and fruit varieties that will be easier to grow. Here are my favourites: 

Nasturtium: Both the leaves and flowers are edible. Plant in its own bed or a large pot, and maintain regularly or it will take over your garden.

Dandelion: Most gardeners consider these flowers weeds, but every part of a dandelion is edible – from roots to blossoms – and can be eaten either raw or cooked. I use the leaves in salads, the flower is delicious in a light tempura batter, and once a year I’ll dig up some root and dry it to make a winter tea.

Broad bean: The beans are delicious and nutritious, but the flowers are also delicious and look great scattered over a salad.

What do flowers taste like? 
Most flowers taste like the plant that they are attached to – broad bean and pea flowers, for example, will taste like broad beans and peas. Nasturtium has a delightful peppery flavour; linaria has a honeysuckle flavour; dandelion is deliciously sweet; and sorrel flowers are sour.

How do I clean and store them? 
Edible flowers need to be clean, just like any other salad or leaves you eat. As most edible flowers are too delicate to wash, make sure they are organically grown, and chemical- and pesticide-free. 

They can be stored in the fridge, and are best eaten within a couple of days of picking.

Which dishes can I add them to? 
Once you know your flowers and their flavours, you can work them into your cooking in all sorts of ways. Add a fresh violet or jumping jack into a beetroot salad, or a sorrel flower to a carrot salad. 
◦ If you have enough of the orange nasturtium flower, you could make a peppery puree to serve with roast beef.
◦ A candied rosella flower sits nicely in a glass of sparkling wine.
◦ A ‘forager’s salad’ – or a garden salad – is a dish I make regularly at home. In the morning, I wander around the garden and cut leaves from the amaranth, dandelion, sorrel and tips of the broad beans plants. I then take a few of their flowers and add some marigold, calendula, and violet flowers to garnish. Back in the kitchen, I add a little cos, gem lettuce, crispy fried bacon, sautéed baby potatoes and perhaps a mushroom or two. Dress with a basic vinaigrette and lunch is served.
◦ Use fresh violets in a dessert of coconut cream, fresh lychees and a violet granita, topped with a splash of champagne.

How many flowers should I use? 
This depends on what you are making. For example, I would not make a salad garnished just with nasturtium as this would lead to a very peppery bowl of leaves. For the granita mentioned previously, I would use as many purple violets as I could without decimating the plant (the flowers are needed for pollination). 

When elderflower is in bloom I harvest nearly half of it as you need a lot to make elderflower syrup.

This article thank to Houzz

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