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Edible Flowers

If you think the idea of eating flowers is new, think again: you’ve probably been eating them since you were young. A few of our common “vegetables” are actually flowers, and though we usually eat the buds, they’ll bloom if left on the plant.
     Broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and capers are all flower buds, and though I’ve never eaten a caper or artichoke in full bloom, broccoli and cauliflower flowers are delicious. They’re a bittersweet treat for the home gardener, who – maybe after a few days away from the garden – comes to find their broccoli or cauliflower head blooming with tiny yellow or white flowers. Go ahead and pop one in your mouth – the mild flavor will surprise and inspire you. I love to toss mine on salads.
     Other edible flowers in the garden are a little more intentional – nasturtiums, borage, chamomile, squash blossoms, and violets.  They don’t need to be relegated to garnish status and have as much of a place in a recipe as any ingredient.
Don’t fret when your arugula, chives, sage, or mint flower either. Check out these recipe suggestions below:
  • Arugula – press onto the surface of pound cake batter before popping in the oven; press into ravioli dough
  • Borage – shake flowers with ice, gin, tonic, add a squirt of lime and sugar to taste for a refreshing cocktail
  • Chamomile – steep in hot water for a mild herbal tea
  • Chives – sprinkle chive flowers on your mashed potatoes or make chive vinegar
  • Nasturtiums – blend with softened cream cheese and spread on crackers for a nice, peppery twist
  • Squash blossoms – mix softened goat cheese with herbs, stuff into blossoms and dip in a batter. Fry until golden brown
  • Violets –  dip in egg white and dust with superfine sugar to candy
     IMG_0267Before eating flowers, check to be sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. They should be in the produce section of your grocery store, not the floral section. The same goes for plants purchased at a garden center – make sure your edibles are grouped with other fruits and vegetables, not the ornamental landscaping plants. Or! grow your own or support a farmer who grows flowers without pesticides.