Where have all the flowers gone?

3rd May 2017 In Season

Nothing quite heralds the arrival of summer than fresh flowers, but as well as being beautiful to look at, some flowers are good enough to eat too!

You will have probably seen them popping up on programmes like Bake Off as a stunning way to decorate cakes but they can also add a different dimension to your cooking. Edible flowers are commonly being used by restaurant chefs in a wide variety of dishes and recipes these days, but this certainly isn’t a new discovery. From the Romans to the Incas, flowers have been used in cooking for centuries, in fact the practice was incredibly fashionable in Victorian times, when cooks from the grand houses loved to put violets, primroses, borage and nasturtiums into their salads. Flowers were even preserved in vinegar so that they could be enjoyed during the winter months.

You can capture the flavours of flowers beautifully by infusing them with butters and sugars, good examples are lavender in sugar or sage blossoms infused with butter, meaning you can enjoy these flavours all year long. In spring and early summer, courgette flowers are perfect for stuffing and for deep-frying, something that continental cooks love to do.

Before you do anything, though, it’s vital to make sure that the flowers you’d like to cook with are edible and unsprayed. You must avoid daffodils, crocuses, foxgloves, rhododendrons, lily-of-the-valley and wisteria.

Here are some flowers which are edible along with some ideas for how to use them.

Nasturtiums and Pansies
Often used as a decorative garnish because of their bright colours. Pansies don’t have a huge amount of flavour but they are truly beautiful. Nasturtiums however, do have a delicious peppery taste which makes them a really good addition to salads or as an edible garnish.

Lavender
A popular and versatile flower to cook with, lavender is commonly used in a wide range of usually sweet dishes, from ice creams and mousses to biscuits and shortbread. This distinctive floral flavour is perfect for infusing into sugar to preserve the summer scent all year long. But however you use it, do so sparingly as the flavour is intense.

Roses
Synonymous with recipes from the Middle East, the taste of rose (either in dried petal form or rose water), makes lovely syrups and jellies. Rose works well in both savoury and sweet dishes, but again it’s best to add a little first, then taste, as the flavour of rose water can be intense.

Violets
The deeper the colour of violets, the sweeter the taste, giving you a flavour that is reminiscent of childhood sweets. As well as being a lovely decoration for cakes and salads, the flavour works very well in sorbets.

Calendulas
These golden flowers have a flavour which is similar to saffron which works well in pasta and rice dishes.
We hope that this article gives you the knowledge and the confidence to use some of these wonderful edible flowers in your salads, garnishes, decorations and indeed cooking. As well as looking amazing they can also elevate the flavour of your dishes and recipes too, something that we will be using to good effect throughout the summer months at Seasons.