Eating flowers is not new. Louise Beebe Wilder, in her book "The Fragrant Path," describes how people living in Elizabethan England used petals of clove gilliflowers, or carnations, to add a spicy flavor to wine or cakes. Most herb and vegetable flowers can be eaten. They are often added to salads or used as garnishes. Keep your dishes simple letting the delicate flower flavors be the star. Avoid spraying pesticides or herbicides on plants you are planning to eat. Avoid eating flowers from plants that are grown along the roadside.
Vegetables that are really flowers
Capparis spinosa, caper bush, native to Mediterranean countries, is a deciduous perennial with pinkish white flowers. The unopened buds are picked and pickled in brine to make capers. Capers are used as an edible decoration in salads. Some plants of the Cruciferae family, notably broccoli and cauliflower are annuals. The parts of the plant we eat are clusters of immature flowers harvested before they bloom. The edible, thick fleshy leaves of artichokes are actually the flowers of the plant .
Pea blossoms from edible peas are white or pale pink; they are crunchy and taste like peas. Removing the flowers diminishes your pea harvest, so plant extra. Blossoms from ornamental peas are poisonous. Squash and pumpkin flowers have a mild squash-like taste. Harvest flowers from the male plant. Radish flowers can be pink yellow or white and have a spicy radish flavor; use them in salads. Scarlet runner bean flowers are bright red. Use them in salads or as a garnish for soups.
Vegetable Flowers To Avoid
The Solanaceae, or nightshade family, contains thousands of plants, including flowers like the sweet smelling Datura stramonium, which have toxic leaves and seeds. The family also includes vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers that we readily consume with no adverse effects. All plants in the Solanaceae family contain alkaloids that are often poisonous. Whats Cooking In America advises not to eat the flowers of these vegetables. Before consuming any flowers, make sure you have identified the plant correctly. Some plants like elderberry have edible flowers, but their stems and eaves are poisonous.
Flowers from members of the Allium family, onions, leeks, chives, shallots and garlic, are often eaten in salads or steeped in vinegar and oil to make salad dressings or as a flavoring for soups and stews. The flowers of the white flowering variety of ginger have a milder taste than the root and can be eaten raw. The tiny citrus flavored flowers of lemon verbena can be steeped in water to make a tea.
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