For centuries, dating back to the bible, flowers have been used in cooking and baking. Preparing food with edible flowers is still very popular in many parts of the world.
The use of flowers in food preparation can add much needed color, texture and taste to dishes. Whole flowers can be frozen in ice cubes from your ice cube tray and used in drinks or punch. Flowers, such as pansies, can be chopped and added to compound butters for color. The flower of the squash plant or day-lily buds can be stuffed or breaded and fried. Nasturtiums are often added to salads for their color and spicy, peppery taste. Some herbal flowers are used to make wine, teas, jellies or jams. Violets can be candied or used fresh. Flowers of aromatic herbs are used in the preparation of dressing, marinades, and vinegar. Garnishes using fresh edible flowers and flowering kale can make a dish more appealing.
If using flowers for cooking or as a garnish, always check to make sure they are not poisonous. Always research the edibility of a flower before using in food. Examples of poisonous flowers that should never be used in food are foxgloves, which are the source of digitalis (a heart medication) and delphinium (highly toxic). Allergy prone people should probably avoid consuming flowers. Some flowers, such as snapdragons, are edible but extremely bitter. When using flowers from the garden, only those which have not been sprayed with pesticide should be used. Flowers from the florist should not be used, as they are typically sprayed with pesticides.
Some of the more popular flowers used in cooking are: bee balm, chrysanthemum, daylily, flowering kale, geranium, gladiola, hibiscus, impatiens, lavender, lilac, nasturtium, orange blossom, pansy, rose, snapdragon, squash blossom, and violet. Have fun and be creative, but always check on the edibility of the flower.
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