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Club Chronicles: Edible flowers add different dimension in kitchen

You might think flowers are used only indoors for decorations or to add beauty to the outdoor landscape. Think again! Many flowers are edible and bring lively flavors, colors and textures to salads, soups, casseroles and other dishes.

Many edible flowers are nutritious and contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can support your health. Roses are very high in vitamin C. Marigolds and nasturtiums also contain vitamin C, and dandelion blossoms contain vitamins A and C.

Edible flowers have been used by different cultures in their traditional cooking and garnishing of foods for hundreds of years. Early reports indicate that Romans, Greeks, Italians and Chinese used flowers in their cooking.

There are a vast number of flowers that are edible, but some can be poisonous – so it’s a must to do research to ensure the flowers you plan to munch on are safe for consumption.

If you are uncertain about which flowers are edible, check the website whatscookingamerica.net and search “edible flowers” for a listing of safe blooms. You can also consult an edible flowers cookbook for specific recipes or websites to find ways to incorporate your favorite edible flowers into your culinary cuisine.

In some areas you might purchase edible flowers from the produce section of your local or gourmet grocery store. Edible flowers can also be obtained from online sources such as The Chef’s Garden, Gourmet Sweet Botanicals or Marx Foods.

Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers unless they are labeled to be eaten. Avoid flowers that have been sprayed with an insecticide, fungicide or herbicide.

For people who have allergies, be aware that flowers that have pollen can cause allergic reactions. Removing the reproductive parts, the stamen and pistil, from the flower can reduce the risk but doesn’t eliminate it.

Here are a few common edible flowers:

  • LAVENDER has a sweet floral lemon taste with a hint of rosemary and mint combination. It’s great as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams.
  • MINT is good addition to food dishes. Lemon balm and spearmint are good in iced tea.
  • NASTURTIUMS in all colors and varieties are edible. These are tasty in salads, vegetables, pastas and stir-fries or used as garnishes.
  • VIOLETS have a vanilla taste with colors ranging from purples to yellows. Violets are good for garnishes to desserts, salads and drinks. When crystallized, they are beautiful on top of frosted cakes or other desserts.

There is even a scientific name for people who eat flowers for food: floriphagia.

Club Chronicles is written by Susie Hovater Malone.