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Edible Flowers From A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Edible Flowers From A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Did you know that artichokes are (edible) flowers? Find out many other nutritional facts, oddities and curious bites you maybe didn't imagine.

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Artichokes. Technically speaking, artichokes are flower buds, just like capers and broccoli. But then the buds of edible flowers are often bitter.

Begonia. Did you know that this flower was edible? With its slightly sour taste, similar to that of lemon, it is perfect in fruit salads and sorbets.

Carnation. More frequently used in the preparation of liqueurs, its sweet petals can also be adopted in cooking, not only in sweet recipes such as biscuits but also in savoury dishes. We recommend you try it in risotto.

Daisy. The flavour is nothing special, but the flower is edible and looks absolutely fantastic!

Early. It goes without saying that flowers have to be fresh. The best time to pick them is usually early in the morning. Avoid flowers grown for decorative purposes because they are not edible.

Fennel. Beautiful and delicious, yellow fennel flowers have a subtle flavour of liquorice.

Geranium. The common geranium has all sorts of uses in cooking: from omelettes to semifreddo, from wine to liqueurs, but it is also excellent served with fresh cheese varieties, such as ricotta.

Herbs. The flowers of herbs, such as mint, sage and rosemary, have the same flavour as the plant, but more delicate. And they look nice too.

Ice. Have your flowers wilted? You can revive them by letting them float on iced water for a few moments. Not too long, otherwise they will lose their fragrance. And on the subject of ice: flowers frozen in ice-cubes will make them look spectacular!

Jasmine. Not only tea: jasmine adds an extremely fragrant touch of sweetness to desserts....

King's spear. Short-lived but extraordinarily sweet. For eating raw in salads. Decorative when grown in the garden, don’t forget their roots: the ancient Greeks roasted them with potatoes, salt and pepper, possibly with figs served on the side.

Lemon. Lemon blossom, but also that of orange and grapefruit… all citrus flowers are exquisite and so steeped in fragrance that they have to be used sparingly, otherwise they will drown the taste of the dish itself.

Medicinal. The flowers of many medicinal plants are not only edible but also healthy and tasty. A typical example? Calendula: red gold in colour, with a savoury, peppery and piquant flavour.

Nasturtium. One of the most popular flowers for culinary use, thanks to its bright colour and sweet flavour with a touch of spiciness. Extremely versatile: these flowers may even be filled with other ingredients.

Onion. The flower of the onion plant, along with that of garlic, leeks and chives… All flowers in the allium family are both edible and tasty, providing a softer and more floral version of your favourite flavours!

Peony. From the Middle Ages onwards, its petals have always been popular in beverages, punches, lemonades and tea - particularly sought-after in China. It may also be eaten in salads.

Quantity. Flowers must be introduced to our diet gradually, especially for those of us who suffer from allergies. Besides, certain varieties must be eaten sparingly, for instance the flowers of the Viola tricolor (johnny jump-ups) since they contain saponins.

Rose. One of the most dearly loved flowers, especially in cake-making. Even in a simple salad, however, a few rose petals will add fragrance, colour and poetry.

Stamens. Stamens, pistils and stems may be unpleasant and/or toxic: it is advisable to consume the petals only.

Toxic. There are many varieties of flowers, often confused with edible types, possibly going under the same common name, which can be toxic, even seriously so. It is therefore important to take great care.

Unsalted butter. Delicious and refined, you will need from one half to a full cup of finely chopped fresh or dried flowers to prepare flower butter. Mix the flowers with one ounce of unsalted butter and leave to rest for one night.

Violet. Delicious, with a delicate flavour of mint, it accompanies salads and fruit salads, as well as savoury dishes such as pasta. Even its heart-shaped leaves may be eaten, cooked in the same way as spinach.

Washing. Many flowers, like sweet elderberry flowers, lose their fragrance when washed. It is preferable to shake them delicately without using water, to check for insects.

Xtra fine. To crystallize flower petals you will need extra fine sugar, an extra fine brush and egg white whipped up with a few drops of water. Brush them in egg white and then sprinkle with sugar before leaving to dry for 12 – 36 hours.

Yucca. Yucca flowers are crisp with a fairly sweet flavour and a hint of artichoke. Excellent in salads.

Zucchini. A must in Mediterranean cuisine: filled in various ways and preferably fried for the maximum enjoyment. Pumpkin flowers are also excellent.

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