Many gardeners are pretty good cooks and enjoy trying different recipes using their garden produce. We eat the leaves, flowers, and roots of many different vegetables. Some flowers from our flower beds may be used as a garnish on a plate, yet they may be fun to incorporate into salads, casseroles, syrups, baked goods or other dishes. The flowers used must be free of chemicals or sprays.
Not all flowers, though, may be eaten. Here are a few common ones that may be eaten and their uses. Before using, carefully wash in cool water and dry them. Dark colored flower’s taste may be slightly bitter yet they contain the most antioxidants.
Dandelions may give pops of yellow colors here and there. The petals may be used for tea or mixed into salads. Dandelion wine may be made. The smaller leaves can be mixed with spinach or kale leaves in a salad. Make sure the plants have not been sprayed with chemicals.
The spicy tasting nasturtium stems, leaves and flowers may be used with many food items. They have a light, peppery bite. Combine them in leafy salads, a vinegar, stir-fry recipes, replace basil in pesto or soups, omelets or other egg dishes, or tea. The large leaves may be used like cabbage leaves to wrap ingredients. The leaves and flowers are rich in vitamin C, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
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Pansies, violets or violas are in the same family. They have a delicate flavor. Remove the stamens and styles on the flower before using. The pansy may be floating in drinks or used for drinks, frozen in ice cubes, or used in appetizers, omelets, salads, pasta, chicken, fish, and desserts. They may also flavor vinegar and syrups or be used as decorations on cakes.
Flowers from apple or other fruit trees have a sweet taste of spice. Try the unsprayed flowers in salads and other recipes or for decorations.
Lilac flowers have a lemony, slightly bitter taste and may be made into syrups, combined with sugar and used in baked goods. The flowers may be combined with honey to flavor the honey. Lilac flowers may be used in making ice cream, cookies, scones, jelly and drinks. They are a fun and easy way to decorate cakes and cupcakes.
Squash blossoms are usually stuffed, then deep fried. It is best to use the male flowers and remove the anthers. The female flowers will have a bulge where the vegetable will develop. Squash blossoms can be included in pasta sauces, salads and also soups. Pick the flowers as buds and refrigerate them if not using immediately. The blooms may also be frozen.
Many recipes using the various flowers may be found on the Internet. Those listed above are just a few flowers that can be eaten. Please check to see if a flower is safe to eat, if you do not know for sure.
Spring and summer are times people will be getting together for outdoor events, wedding showers, meetings, or other get-togethers. Sometimes we just want to have fun. Here is a game I have used different times with people at garden meetings or events. One has to think about the names of descriptive flowers when answering the questions.
This is the story of “The Marriage of Dainty Bess to Dandy Lion”
1. How far did Dandy come to court Bess?
2. What was poor Dainty Bess at her first ball until Dandy Lion arrived?
3. What did she do when he tried to sneak a kiss?
4. What did she shyly give him?
5. What did he say when they parted?
6. Who tried to break them up?
7. What did the ensuring fight cause Dainty Bess to endure?
8. Who helped patch up their relationship?
9. What did Dandy Lion wear the day before he married Dainty Bess?
10. What did Dainty Bess wear on their wedding day?
11. Who was the best man?
12. What were the names of the bridesmaids?
13. How many attended the wedding?
14. Who married the happy pair?
15. What woke them up each night during the following year?
Answers to “The Marriage of Dainty Bess to Dandy Lion:”
10. Friday Wreath, Queen Anne’s Lace.
14. Jack in the Pulpit.
Something to think about: “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” Thomas Keller
5 sterilized jelly jars with rings and lids
2 cups clean lilac blossoms
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 pouch liquid pectin (do not substitute powdered)
Remove stems and leaves from lilac blossoms. Lightly wash. Measure two cups pressed down lilac blossoms. Place blossoms in a quart-size mason jar. Fill the jar with boiling water. Allow blossoms to steep overnight, or 12 to 24 hours.
Strain two cups of the liquid into a 4-quart stockpot leaving settled particles in bottom. Add fresh or bottled lemon juice plus the sugar. Bring to a rolling boil for one minute. Add the pouch of liquid pectin.
Bring back to a boil and let boil for one minute; stirring constantly. Ladle the hot jelly into jelly jars. Wipe jar rims clean and fit with metal lids and rings. Process in boiling water in a water bath canner covering the jars for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. Label and date.
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 dozen edible pansies, stems trimmed
1/2 cup sanding or granulated sugar
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter on medium speed. Gradually add the 2 cups sugar; beat until fluffy. Gradually add the eggs; beat until fluffy. On low speed, add the vanilla and reserved dry ingredients; mix until combined. Divide the dough into two balls; wrap in plastic. Flatten into discs. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white with water until frothy. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
Using a 1-1/2 or 2-1/2 inch round fluted cookie cutter, cut out shapes. Place on baking sheets, spacing two inches apart. Brush tops with egg wash. Place a pansy on top of each cookie; affix petals with more egg wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar over pansies. Bake until lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
2 ounces nasturtium flowers
Clean, dry glass bottle or jar
1 to 2 cups white vinegar (or as much as needed to cover flowers)
Place the flowers in the bottle or jar, and pour the vinegar over them.
Put a lid on the jar and label it. Leave it in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks. When the vinegar is ready, strain out the flowers and re-bottle. Your nasturtium vinegar will keep for several months on the shelf.
The peppery flavor vinegar can be used with olive oil for a salad dressing, or combine it with other foods.