Adding the right petals to a dish won’t just make your food look beautiful – it will enhance the flavours too. Growing your own edible flowers is a great way to do this as you can be confident of the species, be certain that they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides and you can pick them the morning before you want to use them ensuring the colours are at their most vibrant and the flavour is freshest.
If you take a look around your garden you may be surprised to find that you already have a good number of edible flowers to hand. Make the most of the scented petals of roses and lavender in jellies, icing and cakes, whilst bright red, yellow and orange nasturtiums add a peppery tang to salads and also work well as a garnish for steak. Violas and pansies are popular as decorations for cakes and puddings, especially when crystallised in sugar, but their rather lettuce-y taste works well in salads as well.
Don’t forget about the flowers in your vegetable plot too. The big blowsy yellow blooms of courgettes and squash plants are delicious when stuffed with ricotta cheese and deep-fried in a tempura batter. Pick a few flowers from peas and runner bean plants (don’t take them all or you won’t get any pods later in the season!) and you will enjoy a delicate pea or bean flavour which works especially well when stirred through grains such as rice and couscous.
During warmer months the herbs in your patch may begin to flower. Although this takes energy away from their leaves, it will provide you with some lovely edible flowers. The flowers of many annual herb, such as basil, dill and coriander, are a less intense version of the plants’ leaves. Sprinkle them into salads, or try freezing them into ice cubes for a botanical boost to your gin and tonic. Borage flowers taste surprisingly of cucumber, so are ideal in salads, whilst chives purple flowers have a mild onion flavour that works well with fish.
*Article originally appeared in Bustle & Sew Magazine – find out more HERE.