The heat begins to tighten and the fresh summer salads are taking center stage in the daily meals, due to their nutritional contribution, their light caloric load and above all because of the amount of water they contribute to the body and the refreshing action. Therefore, we are going to dedicate this post to making a small list of edible flowers that you can include in your salads and other dishes, to give them color and a touch something different from the usual one.
RULE NO. 1, NOT ALL ARE EDIBLE
It is obvious but it must be said. We cannot add to our diet any flower that we see no matter how beautiful it is without first knowing whether or not it can be eaten.
Normally there is no poisoning from eating edible flowers, unlike mushrooms, but the consumption of the latter is much higher and by pure statistics the poisonings are more “notorious”.
The parts of the flower in a plant have the least chemical compounds toxic to animals and humans. The opposite of the seed, which houses many reserve substances. In fact, in this article we will see how some edible flowers are totally appropriate for consumption, but this is not the case for the seeds that the same plant produces.
Therefore, we must know well what we are collecting before eating anything . If you want to be safe, I recommend that you buy edible flower seed at your nearest nursery, grow it, and test it. And we say this because edible flowers can be many, but from there they taste good …
[alert style = »green»] An example of a common and toxic pretty flower that occurs a lot in the Mediterranean, is the oleander. At this time (May, June) we see hundreds of thousands of oleanders in bloom wherever we go. It is very pretty but very toxic, therefore, it is not an edible flower. [/ Alert]
Its symptoms are fever, vomiting, decreased pulse, and even cardiac arrest. Examples of toxic flowers there are hundreds and we will talk about them. Therefore, we highly recommend keeping the plant that we are adding to the salad very safe.
WHOLE FLOWER OR PETALS
They are diverse options and we can use either of the two options. The size of the flower will be the one that prevails when incorporating it into the salad. We have already talked about calendula or nasturtiums.
Of the calendula , for example, the petals are usually used for example but we can use the entire flower. The petal gives color, but the appearance of the entire flower is very pleasing to the eye.
It all depends on the central part of the edible flower, because sometimes it brings a different flavor or a different texture that will not always be pleasant to us.
In any case, the petals are a must, although the central part is sometimes discarded. Especially in large flowers such as calendula.
BUY OR GROW EDIBLE FLOWERS?
Of course, there are places where we can buy the petals or the flowers, in many cases dry to incorporate directly into our summer dishes. From Gardenprue we recommend you plant them because after all they fulfill two and up to 3 functions.
The decorative function of the garden and in other cases can help the rest of the garden to repel insects as we mentioned yesterday in the post about repellent plants and finally you eat them!
Likewise, all these flowers are compatible with organic production if we are more sure of their consumption and it is for their own purposes.
Most of these plants do not need high fertilization conditions and the mere richness of a soil with a good level of organic matter is enough to have spectacular flowers to eat later.
In addition, with the use of this type of agriculture, we reduce the levels of nitrates in the leaf, something positive for our body since they are associated with certain cancers and there are very demanding laws regarding this.
Here we go. Of course there are hundreds of edible flowers and here we are only going to comment on a few. As we love this theme, we will gradually expand with recipes and sensational dishes, as well as the correct method of collection and conservation.
1.- VIOLETS, THE BEST KNOWN EDIBLE FLOWERS
We put them first because apart from the visual beauty and the contrast that they suppose with their colors, they have a pleasant, smooth flavor and can be done in a thousand ways. Fresh, dry, crystallized and even candied.
This type of flower was one of the first to consume and provides a large group of antioxidants and vitamins. In the photo we see a salad that combines green parts (cucumber and different types of lettuce), fruits such as strawberries and full violet petals or flowers.
Its cultivation in the garden, if you have decided to take advantage of its full potential, is very simple. It can even be grown in pots and have them at home (even on the balcony) to use its petals little by little as they come out in the flowering months.
Its multiplication is very simple and is done through seeds or stolons.
2.- NASTURTIUMS, PERFECT FOR SALADS
Nasturtium flowers have been used extensively in recent years to decorate salads and, of course, they are totally edible. From the nasturtium we can also use its leaves, which have a strong flavor, similar to that of watercress.
However, the most used part is the flowers, since due to the reddish and orange colors they have, they are perfect for decorating salads where green predominates (free of tomato, for example).
We give you some examples of salads and recipes so that you have inspiration and can prepare your own dishes with edible nasturtium flowers.
You can grow nasturtium in your garden or orchard without major problems. In addition, even by ecological means, since with the simple contribution of organic matter based on compost, healthy and strong plants can be achieved.
When it comes to collecting , in the case of flowers, they should be when they are in their greatest splendor and maximum opening. They have the advantage that the flowering period is very long and we have a whole spring and summer to enjoy them.
Be careful with the seeds, because depending on their state of formation they can become toxic. In the case of flowers, you have to consume a very large amount of them to have a negative effect on our body.
This is due to the fact that it contains a small amount in its composition of glucosinolates (which gives the flower the characteristic spicy flavor) and trierucine, a toxic compound that is only found in the seeds.
That said, you have to consume a lot of flowers to be susceptible to irritations or allergies. Even water, in large quantities, can be toxic.
3.- CALENDULA, ANOTHER EDIBLE FLOWER IDEAL FOR ADDING COLOR TO VEGETABLE DISHES
The marigolds can be a great novelty for sad that only have green salads (lettuce, spinach, cucumber, watercress, lettuce, etc.) provide a colorful orange that contrasts nicely and serves as a precedent for its originality.
Calendula is a very grateful plant for the garden, becoming the favorite of many families. Apart from its edible flowers, it provides a great spectacle to the garden with its majestic flowering.
As for its care, it adapts very well to all types of soils (from clay to sandy) as long as they have good drainage. Its sowing can be done by direct seed to the ground or by transplantation (which you can buy in a large number of nurseries for being well known).
In the dishes, it provides a great aroma (not everything is going to be the color) and is considered a “much cheaper substitute for saffron” At least, with a similar flavor. It can be added fresh or by changing the flavor and texture, it can be coated in flour, as is also done with zucchini flowers, a delicacy that you cannot miss.
In addition, with calendula you can make ointments for medicinal purposes. That is to say, practically the use of this plant is total. Edible calendula flowers and reserve the least visually appropriate to make this type of topical remedy.
4.- SECHUAN BUTTON OR ELECTRIC FLOWER
The edible flowers of Sechuan are very curious and not as well known as the rest of the plants used in the kitchen. If eaten fresh, it has an explosive effect on the palate, then combined with a slight sensation of anesthesia.
In fact, it has medicinal properties with analgesic effects and is used in traditional medicine to soothe oral and dental ailments.
However, the Sechuan button can also be used once it is dry, completely changing the texture once it is bitten, and losing all its anesthetic properties , which is positive for many people who do not like the unpleasant tingling sensation when eating them. if you do not have any ailments.
Its origin is from the jungle areas of South America but it takes its name from the similar taste of Sichuan pepper originally from China.
As a curiosity to say that its flowers remind us of those of the chamomile plant, and it belongs to the Asteraceae family of which chamomile, daisies and sunflowers also participate.
5.- CHIVE FLOWER, PERFECT TO PROVIDE STRONG FLAVORS
The edible flower of chives is purplish in color, similar to lavender. It is usually used as an edible flower due to its flavor, since it is similar to that of onion but much softer and more subtle.
It is a type of edible flower ideal to add to a salad, apart from garnishing meat and fish dishes.
This flavor similar to that of onion, but with less intensity, is perfectly compatible in many dishes, and can be used as an edible flower in salads, accompaniment to meat and fish, pasta, etc.
Many of today’s great chefs are using it on a massive scale. Apart from its spectacular bluish and purplish color, the flavor is unmistakable and attractive. Its flowers are collected from spring, producing several for weeks.
Those that we leave uncollected will produce future seeds, which can be used to guarantee the planting of the following season.
As a curiosity to say that this edible flower is also used to create spicy oils. An oil with a slight onion flavor or similar components is perfect for salads or pizza dressing. There are also restaurants and companies that do the same but with vinegar.
6.- ZUCCHINI FLOWER, A VERY FINE AND SWEET FLAVOR
Now that we are beginning to see the first zucchini in some areas, to say that the zucchini flower is less known here in Spain but in Italy, for example, they use it a lot. They call it zuccini and it has a very fine and somewhat sweet flavor.
Now that you also know that you can take advantage of edible zucchini flowers, keep that in mind when planting zucchini in the garden. Don’t throw away the flowers. You can search the internet for a large number of recipes where zucchini flowers are included, even as a single dish without adding anything else.
Many restaurants that today have Michelin stars have this type of flower on their plates. Fritas are incredibly tasty (although less healthy), and even they are no longer only used as a side, but edible flowers are the dish.
7.- ENJOY THE EDIBLE FLOWERS OF BEGONIAS
We have many varieties of multiple colors (white, pink, red, etc.). In general they have an acid taste and a little sweetish although almost imperceptible. In a variety of fruits it is a very good option for example, although it can also be used for meats and salads or even ice cream.
El bulli, one of the most famous restaurants in Spain and the world, by Ferrán Adriá, has a plate where edible begonia flowers are the protagonists.
It is known as flower paper , where different varieties of this plant are selected, providing flowers of different colors and improving the plate.
In this case, select 10 red begonia flowers, 10 white flowers, and 10 pink flowers.
8.- CARNATION FLOWERS OF THE POETS
There are varieties of carnation such as the carnation of the poets that contribute much more than the visual beauty of the garden. They have a somewhat sweet taste that fits very well in many desserts, salads, fruits and whatever comes to mind.
In addition, even if it only has the name in common, the traditional carnation is also included in the list of edible flowers that you can use. They say it has a slight peppery flavor.
9.- ORANGE BLOSSOM, AN INTOXICATING SMELL
A flower that already falls in love with its aroma on the tree. Equally intoxicating is its use in the kitchen. With hints of sugar it is widely used for desserts but it can be used in meat and salty dishes as a contrast.
The orange blossom is widely used in perfumes and fragrances, and if we know how to take advantage of it, we can give our dishes a second life.
Using the edible flowers of the orange blossom, present in citrus fruits, we can make fantastic ice creams, giving it the olfactory touch it deserves.
For example, a popular recipe is cherry or strawberry ice cream with hints of orange blossom, orange flan with orange blossom, almond soft drinks, etc.
We have looked at a list of recipes that incorporate edible orange blossom flowers and we have got 553 results. It doesn’t take much imagination to incorporate this delicious flower.
10.- JASMINE FLOWER TO ADD TO YOUR INFUSIONS AND DESSERTS
Orientals use it with unparalleled mastery and it turns out to be an aroma that suits meat incredibly well. Jasmine tea is a benchmark for the use of this flower. The kitchen Arabic uses it in their desserts as well.
In general, this edible flower has an excellent aromatic contribution to dishes.
It is common to see this jasmine flower introduced in sweet recipes, because of the flavor it provides.
Of course there are many more and we want you to tell us which one is your favorite. Do you put flowers on your plates?