Dig It! - Edible Flowers
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
February 7, 2010
Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into. ~Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858.
Despite the beauty of the flower, they also offer a practical side- many are edible! The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years with the first recorded mention being in 140 B.C. Many cultures utilize flowers in their cuisine- European, Asian, East Indian, Victorian English, Middle Eastern, even Early American settlers. Chartreuse, a classic green liqueur developed in France in the seventeenth century, boasts carnation petals as one of its secret ingredients. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in edible flowers. It is very easy to incorporate edible flowers into any menu, making it not only delicious but also visually pleasing. Any day can seem like a special occasion!
Wow your friends with these flower facts: Pollen in many flowers is rich in vitamins and minerals. Roses, rosehips, marigolds, and nasturtiums are loaded with vitamin C. Dandelion blossoms are high in vitamin A and C and leaves are also high in iron, calcium, and phosphorous. Most blossoms are low in calories. Artichokes and broccoli are actually flower buds.
Here are some ways to incorporate flowers into meals:
Place a colorful gladiolus or hibiscus flower (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favorite dip.
Sprinkle edible flowers in your green salads for a splash of color and taste.
Freeze whole flowers into ice rings or cubes for an elegant addition to punches and other beverages.
Use in flavored oils, vinaigrettes, jellies and marinades.
Use candied or crystallized flowers to decorate cakes and fine candies.
Alternate layers of rose, geranium petals or lemon balm with layers of regular sugar in small jars, seal and allow two weeks for the scent to permeate the sugar. These colorful, aromatic sugars can be used on the table or in cooking to add a delicate taste to foods and beverages.
Use scented geranium petals to scent jelly, ice creams and cakes.
Day lily buds can be frozen for later use in Oriental soups or stir fry.
Spicy nasturtium flowers and leaves add flavor and vibrant color to salads.
Sweet-smelling roses petals add a delicate flavor to sweets (remember to remove the bitter white base of the petal before eating).
Chrysanthemum petal tips complement ginger in meat dishes.
Dianthus clove-like flavor makes a pleasant addition to salads and seafood.
Use homegrown hibiscus to make a delicious, fragrant tea.
Introduce edible flowers into your diet slowly to avoid possible allergic reactions or digestive problems. Grow edible flowers yourself or buy from certified organic grower; flowers from most greenhouses, florists, and nurseries have been treated with chemicals. Due to poisonous car exhaust, do not eat flowers picked from the roadside. Ensure the flowers you are eating are safe; consult a qualified professional if unsure. Eat only the parts known to be edible; remove pistils and stamen, eat only petals in most cases. Although flowers may be edible, they may not be palatable.
STUFFED SQUASH BLOSSOMS RECIPE Use zucchini, acorn squash, pumpkin or other squash blossoms in this recipe (yes you can grow squash in Sublette County!). Stuff with an herbed cheese mixture, dip in a light beer batter, and fry to a golden brown. Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Ingredients: 18 squash blossoms (stamens removed), vegetable oil for frying, salt and pepper to taste, grated Parmesan cheese and sliced chives for garnish
Cheese Filling: 3 ounces goat (feta) cheese, 3 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, 1 clove garlic (minced), salt and pepper to taste.
Beer Batter: 1/8 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon celery salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg, (beaten), 1/2 cup cold flat beer
1. Gently swish the squash blossoms in cold water to clean. Carefully twirl to remove most of the water, then drain thoroughly on paper towels. Set aside. 2. Beat goat cheese, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper until blended. 3. Gently fill each blossom with about 2 teaspoons of the cheese filling. Refrigerate while making batter. 4. In a heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of oil to 375 F over medium heat. 5. While oil is heating, whisk together cornstarch, flour, salt, pepper, celery salt, baking soda, baking powder, egg, and beer until combined. 6. Carefully dip a stuffed blossom into the batter, covering the entire flower, and ease into the hot oil. 7. Brown on one side, then turn to brown the other. Cook only a few at a time so they are not crowded. 8. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining stuffed squash blossoms. 9. Sprinkle stuffed squash blossoms with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and chopped chives.
For a list of edible flowers please contact the Sage and Snow Garden Club. The next Garden Club meeting will be February 16, in the Cooperative Extension Service Office at 621 South Pine, Pinedale. Come at 11:30 for social time and noon for the meeting. Contact us at Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941, by email at email@example.com or call 859-8606. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to www.pindealeonline.com and click on the link under "clubs".
The Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson