8 Aug 2011

National Allotment week and edible flowers

Today is the start of National Allotment week (see here). So for this blog I want to re-visit the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Allotments movie with over a 140 views - See this wonderful community project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnmveLQNX3E 

See also below a great blog by Gem taken from here about edible flowers.  So let all your garden become edible!!

Incr-Edible Flowers

At this time of year, you may like to add variety to your recipes by harvesting flowers from the garden for the dining table. There are more edible flowers than most people realise, so take advantage of nature’s bounty and get picking! Spicy or peppery petals suit being added to salads and garlic butters or used as a garnish for soups and other cooked food while sweet blossoms can be floated in drinks, added to ice cubes or candied to decorate cakes and desserts. Some flowers, particularly courgette and daylily flowers apparently taste great coated in battered and fried up as floral fritters. Obviously, care needs to be taken when deciding which flowers are safe to eat and how to accurately identify them. You’ll also want to ensure that heavy traffic or pesticides haven’t polluted the flowers you pick. I would advise only eating flowers that you’ve specifically grown for the purpose. If you suffer from asthma, hay fever or other allergies, you may want to be extra cautious about eating flowers. In such cases, the petals could be used as a garnish only and not eaten.
The following flowers are all edible as long as you remove the stamens and use only the petals. Herb blossoms aren’t featured here, as there are so many of them but do remember that herbs have tasty flowers as well as leaves. Chive, chamomile, lavender and bergamot flowers are particularly attractive. Click read more to see list.

  • Broccoli — green and yellow — the broccoli florets are actually the budding flowers of the plant. If left to grow they burst into yellow flowers, which are also edible.
  • Calendula (English marigold) — orange and yellow — sometimes called poor man’s saffron. Slightly peppery flavour.
  • Carnations – red, pink, white – these have a peppery flavour
  • Courgette flowers — yellow — subtle flavour.
  • Clover — white — a sweet, liquorice-like flavour.
  • Cornflowers — blue — a sweetish, peppery flavour.
  • Daisies – white – tangy.
  • Dandelions — yellow — pick them young or they’ll be very bitter. Apparently, the young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms.
  • Daylilies – orange – eat the buds or the opened flowers. They taste like a sweet lettuce. Be careful though as they may have a slight laxative effect. Other lilies are NOT edible.
  • Fuchsia — bright pinks and purples — the berries are edible too.
  • Gardenia – white, yellow – sweet.
  • Gladioli – many different colours – tastes similar to lettuce.
  • Hollyhocks — white, pink and red — mild flavour.
  • Honeysuckle (NOT the poisonous berries!) — pale yellow — sweet flavour.
  • Jasmine — white — very fragrant.
  • Lilac — pale to deep purple — slightly lemony and bitter.
  • Mallow – pale to deep pink – delicately sweet.
  • Nasturtiums — red and orange — slightly spicy and peppery, similar to watercress.
  • Pansies — deep purple — very mild.
  • Peonies — pink — traditionally, fallen petals are par-boiled and sweetened as a teatime delicacy in China.
  • Primroses — pale yellow — sweet but bland.
  • Pumpkin blossom — yellow — mild flavour.
  • Radish flowers — pink, white and yellow — spicy, radish flavour.
  • Roses — pink, white, red and yellow — sweet and fragrant. Darker varieties have a stronger flavour. Remove the bitter white portion of the petals before adding to food.
  • Runner bean flowers — red — these are the flowers of the edible runner beans. Sweet pea flowers are NOT edible. Bear in mind though that the more flowers you eat, the less beans you’ll harvest!
  • Snapdragons – yellow – bland to bitter flavour.
  • Sunflowers – yellow – to reduce bitterness, steam the petals. Young sunflower buds can be steamed and eaten like artichokes.
  • Violets — purple — sweet and perfumed. Romans fried them with slices of orange and lemon, as well as making violet wine.

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