Monday, July 13, 2009

100-Mile Desserts: Edible Flowers

There are so many edible flowers in bloom right now, that a post needed to be written offering these as a creative solution to sprucing up your 100-Mile desserts. Edible flowers are beautiful when added as decoration to cakes and cupcakes, or other fancy desserts that need a special or elegant touch. Edible flowers can also be added to drinks such as glasses of herbal iced tea, lemonades, or sangria. I love to add them to green garden salads for nice colour, flavour and texture. The garden salad pictured above was from lunch today - garden greens (4 kinds of lettuce, green and purple lamb's quarters, red orach, spinach, mustard greens), fresh peas, radish, cherry tomato, green onion, dill, basil, plus edible violas, bergamot, and borage flowers.

Of course when picking your edible flowers, make sure you are propery identifying the plant. Many plants look quite similar, but may in fact not be edible at all (or even toxic to eat)! If you are not sure, ask someone who is more knowledgeable, or consult a professional plant ID book that shows pictures of stem, leaf and flower. We like to use the Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern and Central Medicinal/Edible Plants as it offers colour photography of each plant, and includes descriptions of the plants in different stages as well as their many uses. Stalking the Wild Asparagus, by Euell Gibbons is also a classic for wild food harvesting, and there is a more recent book called The Neighbourhood Forager, by Robert Henderson, which offers great ideas on plants to be found in urban areas.

Many of these edible flowers will be growing in your own garden or herb patch. Some garden vegetables have edible flowers (e.g. pea blossoms, squash blossoms, cilantro flowers, broccoli flowers). Also other common edible herbs and flowers include: roses, dandelion, chickweed, bergamot, lavender, calendula, marigold, borage, nasturtium, sage, basil flowers, and more.

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