flower buds look
beautiful in the garden
– but they can also
stimulate the taste buds
Flowers in a dining room are often used to
decorate the table. Now that summer is here,
it is likely that some of the flowers growing in
your garden, currently there to make the
place look pretty, are also edible. In other
words, you can use them on your plate to
make a dish look more attractive and, with
some, add flavour and/or fragrance.
Calendula (pot marigolds), with their
yellow petals, add colour to salads and can
also be used, like saffron, as a colourant in
cakes, rice, omelettes and butter. However,
it is worth noting that you will be
introducing a tangy taste to the food.
Nasturtium, both the leaves and the petals,
with a range of colours from pale lemon
through to a vibrant scarlet will not only add
colour, but also a peppery taste to the meal.
The buds can also be pickled and used
like capers. The petals of roses (old species),
hemerocallis (day lilies), pinks, carnations,
primroses and violas are all edible and can be
used for decoration.
Some, such as primroses, do have a sweet
honey flavour, so it is important to not
only make sure that the colour compliments
the food, but that it also goes with whatever
you are serving. Violas look particularly
attractive whole, but can also be frozen
in ice cubes, as can borage, with its blue
and white star flowers to add interest to
The flowers of the latter, which have a
sweet flavour, can also be mixed with darkcoloured
leaves to liven up salads, although
they need to be added after the dressing or
they will discolour.
Flowers wilt quickly, particularly in the
heat, so it is essential to pick them early in
the morning when it is still cool, particularly
if the weather is likely to be quite warm.
Use scissors, and take the whole of the
Even when preparing them, it is
important that this is done in a cool
environment. If you bring them into a
steamy kitchen, they are unlikely to make it
to the plate. Spread the flowers on a paper
towel and remove the petals as, in the
majority of cases, the flower head is too
tough to eat. Place the petals in a plastic bag,
allowing some air so that the petals do not
get crushed, and seal.
They can be kept in this way in the
refrigerator for several hours until needed.
Washing the flowers is likely to damage
them, although if any of them have started
to wilt, a bowl of cold water will act as
Flowers make an excellent edible
decoration for biscuits and cakes. Primroses,
violets, sweet rocket, roses, honeysuckle
and pinks, can all be crystallised by being
dipped in beaten egg white, dusted with
caster sugar and allowed to dry.
In this manner, the flowers can last for
up to a week. If they need to be kept longer,
this can be done with a solution of gum
arabic mixed with rosewater, followed by
a coating of caster sugar, and then allowed
to dry. By this method, they can be kept
for several months in an airtight container.
Also, do not forget that flowers can be used
to flavour foods such as vinegars, jams,
infusions and desserts. Bon appetit!