Edible Flowers--Dress up the Menu With Eye-Catching Garnishes
Cupcakes With Special Toppers
Flowers are lovely anytime but flowers aren't just for enjoying out-of-doors. Chefs and creative home cooks are using edible flowers to fancy up certain menu item. Florals impart visual beauty and tempt the senses with their unique texture and taste.
When you want to add a touch of something special, flower blossoms are the perfect medium. What could be more attractive than an edible flower sitting delicately atop a chilled fruit soup? A wedding cake decorated with real blooms? A salad containing delicate rose petals?
Edible flowers offer a world of taste and pleasure when they are added as garnishes or even as flavoring ingredients.
Edible Flower Trends
- Caterers use edible flower arrangements for special occasions.
- Cruises offer guests tables laden with edible creations that add to the festive holiday atmosphere.
- Edible cake decorations are becoming popular for weddings. Many brides choose delicate, edible cake flowers to decorate their cakes.
- Edible flower petals lend their delicate flavors to tea and wine and add vibrant color to champagne and punches.
- Never eat flowers purchased in a market as they may have been treated with pesticides.
- Avoid picking flowers near roadways because of possible contamination
- Avoid using non-edible flowers as garnishes lest guests assume these are safe to eat.
Imagine a punch containing ice cubes with miniature roses frozen inside.
Some Common Edible Flowers
A number of flower varieties are safe to eat. The list below can be used as a starting point.
- Borage—cornflower blue flowers and a cucumber flavor make borage blossoms suitable for punches or as a topper for chilled soups.
- Carnations—these pretty flowers compliment dessert items, making attractive cake decorations.
- Fuchsia— beautiful fuchsia flowers are edible delights: bursting with color and having an unassuming flavor that goes well with a variety of foods.
- Gladiolas—add interest to any salad. The petals taste like lettuce.
- Lavender—these edible plants with their aromatic buds and flowers impart a floral flavor that can be used to compliment whipped cream, icing, shortbread or in beverages such as punch or tea. Lavender goes particularly well with sugar, so can be added to white sugar or to honey.
- Pansies—these quaint flowers have a mild, grassy flavor and can be used to garnish fruit salads, desserts, or chilled soup.
- Roses—enchanting edible roses are an enduring favorite and encompass an appealing range of flavors from strawberry to apple, from minty to spicy. Miniature rose varieties can be used to decorate puddings, ice cream or cakes. Larger edible rose petals make a nice addition to salad or can be used to perfume butter. Imagine how enchanting rose-flavored icing or whipped cream tastes? How about rose-flavored pastry? Or rose petal tea?
- Sweet Woodruff—with a nutty, vanilla taste, woodruff is suitable for dessert dishes.
- Violets—these flowers have a delicate flavor and can be used in salads or to decorate cakes or cookies. Add to punch or to iced drinks or freeze in into ice cubes.
Edible Flowers Used in the Past
Incorporating edible flowers into meal preparation is nothing new. The ancient Romans used these in their cooking; other cultures also included edible flowers. In more recent history, this was seen during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Neat Ideas for Using Edible Flowers
- Decorate a cake with pansies for a stunning edible creation.
- Freeze miniature rosebuds or violets in ice cubes to add to punch.
- Stuff day lily flowers with ambrosia or other sweet salad.
- Surround a platter of cookies with attractive gardenia flowers you can eat.
- Make stunning individual fruit salads by placing each salad portion inside a rose.
- Sprinkle a salad with nasturtiums for a colorful touch.
- Add lavender blooms to champagne for an exotic taste.
- Dress up rice by sprinkling on young dandelion petals.
Growing and Using Your Own Edible Flowers
If you enjoy flower gardening, you may choose to grow and use your own edible flowers.
- Pick edible plants early in the day, then soak or wash flowers in cool water. Use right away or set to dry on absorbent paper or a clean towel out of direct sunlight.
- A good rule of thumb is to eat only flower petals, while removing pistils and stamens.
- Growing your own edible flowers means you ensure in a chemical-free environment for your blooms.
Nature offers us a bounty of good things. Why not experiment by adding edible flowers to the menu?
© 2013 Athlyn Green
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