One of my favorite parts of spring is enjoying all of the gorgeous blooms. Flowers enhance our lives in so many ways, but to consider flowers as food is an entirely different way to experience and enjoy them.
The history of edible flowers goes back thousands of years. The first recorded mention was in 140 B.C. One thing to note is that many of us are already eating some types of edible flowers. For example, broccoli and artichoke are unopened flower buds. It is also critical to note that some flowers are not safe to eat. Use common sense and don’t eat a flower if you are uncertain. In addition, if you are buying edible flowers, you should only purchase those that have been grown specifically for consumption. Grocery store flowers should not be consumed because they are grown with pesticides.
Some of my favorite edible flowers include pansy, rose, nasturtium, marigold, and violet. I recently collected violets from my yard to make a simple syrup. The recipe is as follows:
- 1 Cup violets
- 1 Cup water
- 1 Cup sugar
Remove calyxes (the green flower base) and place the violets in a glass canning jar, boil the cup of water, and pour it over the violets. Cover and let the violets sit overnight. Strain violet water into a saucepan, add sugar, and let simmer until sugar dissolves. Let cool and store in the refrigerator.
Violet simple syrup can be used in any number of ways. I like to use it in baking and in beverages (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic). I made a cocktail by shaking 2 ounces of gin, ½ ounce of Crème De Violette, ½ ounce violet simple syrup, the juice from half a lemon, and one small egg white in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a couple of violet flowers.
Another simple recipe that utilizes edible flowers is sugared rose petals. As you might expect, rose has a very floral taste, which compliments sweets very well. I like to use the sugared rose petals primarily for cake decorating. Here is the recipe:
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 Cup super fine sugar
- About 25 rose petals
Add the water to the egg white. Carefully brush each petal with the egg white using a small paint brush (I use a small tweezer to hold each petal). Sprinkle each petal with sugar on both sides and set them on a piece of parchment paper to let dry overnight. If you are not using the sugared petals right away, you can store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
Whether you are using edible flowers as a garnish, sprinkled in a salad, added as a decoration on the top of a cake, or mixed into a beverage, there are so many ways to enjoy them!
Join Carrie Brogren — founder of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies group on Facebook — as she continues positive, fun and interactive community discussion on local food. From home-cooked meals to fantastic local restaurants, from around the corner to around the world, you’ll find a little something to be excited about in “Snacks and the City” on Chapelboro.com!
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