Did you know that some flowers can be eaten? People plant some varieties of vegetables in ornamental beds for extra color. Why not plant some flowers in your vegetable garden for extra color on your plate?
First, the obligatory cautions. Some flowers are poisonous. If you are not absolutely sure what the flower is, do not eat it. If you are not absolutely sure it is edible, do not eat it. Make sure that the flowers have not had any pesticide sprayed on them. Finally, if you have allergies to pollen, do not eat a flower from that plant or closely related plants.
Now, for the good part. Here is how to pick and prepare the flowers, which ones are good, and all that fun stuff. Pick flowers early in the morning after the dew has evaporated. Flowers taste best when picked at their peak, just as vegetables do.
Once picked, wash gently right before use. Check for insects and evict them. Remove the stamens and pistils from the flowers, which are the things that carry pollen inside the flower. Then remove the sepals, or little outside petals right where the flower meets the stem. The exception to this rule is that pansies, violas, and Johnny-jump-ups have tasty sepals, so leave them on. You now have a naked flower ready to eat.
But which flowers, you ask? Well, Roses go well in salads or jelly, and there are hordes of recipes for candied rose petals, rose water, and things such as that. Violets, Johnny-jump-ups, and pansies are used to color butter, float in punch, in fruit salads, and as candied decorations on cakes and pies. I have seen them used in the center of a salad to add color and style to it.
There are several other flowers you can use. Iowa State University has a pamplet on edible flowers. North Carolina has an extensive list of flowers that includes the plant’s common name, scientific name, flavor, color, and some comments. The scientific name is handy to make sure you are getting the flower you want, and not a poisonous look-alike. In addition, their list has some reference books that you can look at for more information.
Flowers can add splash and pizazz to a special meal, or be part of every day fare. Either way, grow them with care, harvest them with love, and enjoy them with an appreciation of their colors and beauty.
For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from Amazon.com or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today!