FLORAL FLAVOURS The resurgence of edible flowers
Instantly instagramable edible flowers are a trend that we are seeing everywhere, no longer limited to just decorative pieces flora in food has become a 21st phenomenon.
Of course the concept of using edible flowers is not new, using flowers in cookery can be traced back to Roman times, and have been used in Chinese, Greek, and Indian cultures within dishes still enjoyed today. Orange flower & rose are synonymous with Middle Eastern dishes used within waters and sweets while Jasmine and Lotus are commonly used within Chinese and Indian cuisine. Saffron a spice which originates from a flower called crocus sativus—commonly known as the "saffron crocus” is now considered one of the world most precious spices more expensive than even gold.
Extremely popular during the Victorian era edible flowers were at the height of fashion during Queen Victoria’s reign often used to communicate ones affection to another but fell out of favour after mass industrialization however, thanks to the onslaught of social media and our desire to make our foods social more desirable the trend has return with a vengeance.
Today, nearly every chef will garnish a dish with a delicate flower blossom to add a touch of elegance. The missing triplet to herbs and spices, edible flowers lend interest to all manner of recipes and can even be the star of the dish. The secret to using edible flowers is to keep the dish simple, do not use too many other flavours that will over power the delicate taste of the flower
Three of the most beautiful edible flowers to use:
Violets are among the most beautiful, delicate flowers to use in the kitchen, with its gorgeous small purple, cream and yellow flowers and slightly sweet viola heartsease.
Violets carry a very gentle pepperiness alongside a fresh green flavour.
Heartsease has just the right balance of sweetness too. Violets are very versatile – they can’t be bettered as a crystallized flower on cakes, they add a dash of sweet pepper to leafy salads and add an extra dimension to any cocktail.
Reliable and simple to grow, pot marigolds’ petals brighten the plate as much as your garden or windowsill.
Not to be confused with the inedible African or French marigolds, pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) have narrow eye-shaped petals radiating around their centre, most commonly in striking orange. With a gentle pepperiness taste, Marigolds add visual appeal and a gently peppery flourish to both leafy and fruit salads, the flowers release their golden colour and gentle flavour into warm butters and oils.
…or scented pelargoniums, to use the proper name, are fleshy-leaved reminders of 1970s window boxes, but the seemingly endless variations in scent make them a must-have edible flower. It’s the leaves rather than the flowers that carry the scent, and if you grow only one type, let it be rose geranium.
Surprisingly Geraniums can taste like anything from rose to lime to hazelnut to nutmeg making them the perfect flower to use.
Line a cake tin with the leaves to infuse the cake mix with their flavour, or make a syrup by dissolving an equal weight of sugar in water and adding a handful of leaves to it as you take it off the heat.
Remove the leaves when it’s the strength you fancy. Drizzle over cakes and ice cream or mix with six parts Prosecco for a wonderful spring-into-summer drink