Summer is here and the plants are blooming all around, bringing delicious smells and beautiful colors to grace our fair city. But it's time we did more than just admire them from a distance.
There is an incredible variety of edible flowers that can be added to everyday foods for a bit of fun and color...and they are nutritious too!
Specifically, prickly wild roses. They cover the city and are a common sight along roadsides, they have a lovely light floral fragrance and taste. Well known as a source of vitamin C, both rosehips and flowers can be eaten or brewed as a tea. Flowers (or individual petals) can be added to salads, jams, or sprinkled across desserts. Try adding a few petals to whip cream covered berries, or sprinkling on top of cakes or yogurts.
* If you want to add the rosehips to a salad, take the time to remove the seeds inside the rosehip as they are covered in hairs that may irritate the throat.
One of those misunderstood plants, and often viewed as a pest or a weed, its nutritional and medicinal properties have made it a favorite of many a herbalist or wildcrafter over the years. While the whole plant can be used as food, the flowers are a particularly good source of the sunshine vitamin (Vitamin D). They can be added to salads, or for a more decadent approach, fried in a bit of butter and garlic. Delicious and nutritious!
*As they are oft targeted by pesticide applicators in the city, don't harvest them from urban areas. If you are out in the mountains or away from city limits, consider them fair game!
"If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn" ~Andrew V. Mason~
Much more of a spicy/savory flavour than the previous selections, Nasturtiums have a marvellous peppery flavour that is great added to meat marinades or to add spice to savory salads. The flowers are tremendously bright and cheerful and also another fantastic source of Vitamin C. If you add this to a recipe, you likely will need far less pepper!
Lavender has well earned its reputation as a relaxing and soothing scent, but it is also great added to teas (pairs extremely well with rose and cardamom...I'm just saying).
A few of the dried flowers can be sprinkled across desserts, especially ice cream! They also make a terrific addition to jams, jellies, popsicles, scones, muffins... you get the picture.
Not just for horses! Red clover is high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and niacin (B3) just to name a few, and is also a source of vitamins A, C, E and B12. More importantly though...its pretty tasty. You can toss a handful of blossoms into a green salad for color and flavor. Or steep and chill it, add a splash of lemon and you have a summer lemonade that is cleansing and refreshing. For a more whimsical summer treat, put a blossom in the bottom of popsicle molds... More fun than a plain old popsicle any day!
Some commonsense cautions and tips to keep in mind:
1) If you aren't sure of what it is...don't put it in your mouth. Please.
2) If you have hayfever, or pollen sensitivities it may be far more pleasant for you to enjoy these floral delights from a distance
3) Wash your flowers! Flowers are delicate, yes but gentle rinsing and letting them air dry never hurts.
4) Also, avoid picking them from areas near traffic exhaust or locations that may have been exposed to pesticides. Nobody wants to eat that.
5) If you are wildcrafting (picking flowers in the wild)...remember that these lovely flowers are a plants way of investing in the future and convincing some insect or helpful gust of wind to carry that pollen on over to the supercute plant on the other side of the road that has been giving them the flirtatious leaf wrinkle all week. Be kind. Harvest only in areas where there is a large healthy plant population and don't remove all the flowers. A good rule of thumb is leave 10 flowers for every one that you pick.
6) Remember that variety is the spice of life. If you find something you like here, don't add it to every meal. Relax, and try something new. You might find something else you like just as much!