Many people with gardens might not be aware that the plants already growing in their gardens can be used in the cooking of some simple, delicious, yet excellent dishes. Some commonly found and purchased flowers can be used as a colourful garnish or used to create a tasty nutritional treat.
For those frugal yet culinary driven gardeners, edible flowers can be cheaply grown, harvested and handled for cooking. As many of the flowers can be grown quickly in a garden, there can be a wealth of ingredients growing in your garden or flower pots ready for you to create real edible dishes for the whole family!
Check out some of the most commonly known edible flowers and how you can incorporate them into your meal times:
One of the most common weeds, the dandelion is surprisingly edible from flower to root. The plant is insanely versatile as it can be made into tea, wine and beer. Three of the most common uses of the flower that require little effort are:
- Dandelion Salad
The leaves of yellow dandelion flowers can be used as garnish and/or confetti over basic rice dishes. If you fancy creating a dandelion salad you can source the following products or create your own;
1 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 tsp. cider vinegar or lemon juice, 2 cups young dandelion leaves
1/4 cup sliced green onions or leeks, 2 sliced hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 cup grapefruit or tangerine sections or mandarin oranges.
- Dandelion Roots
The roots of dandelions are famously tough and resilient as anyone who has tried to clear them from their lawn will know. The root can be dug up, washed, and cooked to accompany any dish. The dandelion plant has a long carrot-like taproot, you will have to dig deep to collect a good quality.
Once you have dug up the roots, wash, peel, and dice the roots like you would do to a carrot. To achieve the best results it is recommended that you boil the roots like you would carrots, so 5-8 minutes boiling in a pot – consider adding a dash of salt, pepper, butter or seasoning depending on your preferences. Once boiled the roots should be ready to be served.
- Dandelion Fritters
These fritters are a fantastic way to get children to eat dandelions! Once you have collected and washed a handful of dandelions you will have to make up a batter mix: mix together one cup of milk, one cup of flour, one egg and maple syrup.
Pour into a bowl and dip the heads of the flower into the batter until fully covered. Once covered with the batter, place in a frying pan with oil and cook on low to medium heat until they brown on both sides.
Usually seen in a bouquet of flowers, this beautiful flower is rarely seen as an edible plant. The petals of carnations have been used since the 1600′s to make a French liqueur known as Chartreuse. Today, you can steep carnation petals in wine and use them as candy or decorations on cakes and desserts.
One of the most common uses for this flower is as a garnish on meat dishes. Carnation petals are a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy and come in a range of soft colours; white and pink look particularly pretty in salads.
For those who would like to do something more than just garnish their food there is an old recipe from 1629 known as the “Carnation Pickle”. To create the sweet and sour pickle (relish style) all you will need is:
- 6 cups of carnation flowers
- brown sugar
- 2 tea spoons of coriander seeds
- 2 cups of brown grape vinegar
- 2 bay leaves and 1 stick of cinnamon
Best served with cheese!
Follow the 1629 recipe from the book called “the Garden of Pleasant Flowers”.
This flower is a very popular plant favoured by homeowners and landscape designers for its showy flowers. It has been noted to have the consistency of lettuce and a nice nutty flavour.
One of the most impressive dishes to cook is the daylily casserole – this dish brings out the full flavour of the shoots which season in early spring. The recipe is as follows:
- 1 14-oz. package of firm tofu, drained and diced
- 2 cups daylily shoots, chopped
- 1 cup spicy barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup of bamboo shoots, chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or tamari soy sauce.
Bake the ingredients for an hour in an uncovered oiled dish, until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
It’s not only the shoots that can be used in dishes! The petals can be added to egg dishes, soups and salads, or you can dip whole flowers in batter and deep-fry them as you would squash blossoms.
There are thousands of quirky recipes online that encourage the consumption of common flowers! Get inspired, get growing and get cooking!
Author Bio: Karl Young writes for the Tiger Sheds Gardening Resource Blog.