Most aspiring chefs and almost all gardeners are aware of the advantages of eatable flowers. They can add an extra dimension to almost all dishes and due to the fact that they are frequently used by celebrity chefs, more and more people are becoming interested in cooking with them. However it is important to remember that not all flowers are in fact eatable flowers and therefore if you wish to cook with eatable flowers, a little bit of knowledge is first required.
The Many Uses of Eatable Flowers
Eatable flowers have been used for centuries to add both flavour and colour to a variety of foods. They are particularly helpful in the aesthetics department and are used as edible garnishes and as decorations in a variety of dishes. In both Middle Easter and Asian dishes, they are often used to add colour to food that primarily consists of egg, milk or rice. They are not solely used for aesthetics however and are often also used in oils and marinades to add more flavour. Another common use is in the stuffing of various meats as this leads to the flavour infusing into the meat when cooked.
The Most Popular Eatable Flowers
The eatable flowers that most people are familiar with include chives, rose petals, mint and sage. The reason for their popularity is primarily due to the strength of their flavours. There are however many other types of eatable flowers. Particularly I would recommend dandelion, dianthus and lilac. If you are looking into eatable flowers for their nutritional value then good choices include marigolds and nasturtiums which are very high in Vitamin C. Also don't forget about dandelion blossoms which are very high in Vitamin A.
Be Careful What Eatable Flowers You Cook With
Though with a little precaution, all risks of eatable flowers can easily be avoided, there are definite dangers. As well as the potential for being poisonous, many people are allergic to various types of flowers, the most common type of flower based allergy being against pollen. Another danger is that the flowers that are eaten are not properly cleaned and could therefore contain insects. The primary danger associated with eatable flowers however is that those that are in fact eatable look a lot like those that are not and therefore mistakes can easily be made, possibly even fatal ones. Therefore unless you know what you are doing, make sure that you only eat flowers that you purchase and that have been specifically sold for the purpose of eating.
Never Forget about Pesticides When Using Eatable Flowers
Not only are some flowers toxic, but some flowers that would be classed as eatable flowers are made toxic when they are sprayed with harmful pesticides. Unfortunately unless flowers are specifically packaged and sole as eatable flowers, you cannot know for sure whether or not they have been sprayed with pesticides. Therefore just because a flower is usually sold for use in cooking, unless it states that it can be eaten on the packet, you really do not know and therefore should not take the risk.