Oct 12, 2013

Flowers You Can Eat

When my grandfather was still alive, he used to tell stories about World War II, particularly the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in the 1940s.  He told stories of how our family, composed of my grandmother, my mother, aunts and uncles (who were little children then), had to eat anything edible that they could find because food was scarce during the war and they were always walking on jungles for days on end.  They ate bugs, roots, fruits, leaves, flowers, and whatever seemed non-dangerous.  They ate for nourishment, even if the taste left something to be desired.

These days, when my children tend to be picky with the food on the table, I tell my grandfather's story to them.  And I add the lesson of the story which is in situations like a war or something similar, they have to be prepared to eat whatever they can find, with no complaints, in order to survive.

Take the case of flowers.  We see them everyday everywhere.  But few of us may be aware that some of these flowers are edible or fit for human consumption.  We only know that flowers are beautiful and some even smell great.  But flowers as food?


Actually, flowers have been used as food since thousands of years ago.  The ancient Roman, Greek and Chinese civilizations have been known to use edible flowers in their food preparations.  At present, edible flowers are also included in traditional menus in many parts of the world.

Here are five edible flowers and how they are prepared:

1.  Roses

Roses are edible flowers that can be used for a variety of delicacies.  The rose petals have that sweet, scented, floral flavor that can be blended with many types of desserts.  Baking recipes, such as cookies, cupcakes, muffins and cakes can include rose petal syrup for that unique floral taste.  Rose petals ground together with sugar make store-able rose sugar that can be used for pastries and desserts.   Unprocessed rose petals can be eaten directly, or sprinkled on top of desserts, or added into fruit jams.'

2.  Lavender

Sweet Lavender are edible flowers that can be quite versatile in food preparation.  The sweet, slight spicy and pleasantly-scented flowers are dried and used for savory recipes such as cookies, marmalade, jellies and even ice cream!

3.  Nasturtium

Nasturtium blossoms may be vibrant and beautiful to look at, but they are more than decorative ground cover.  These edible flowers are often used as attractive ingredients in salads.   With a bit of creativity, Nasturtiums can also be mixed with other food ingredients to make for interesting and flavorful recipes.  

4.  Moringa Flowers

Moringa flowers can be mixed with other foods to make a delicious salad.  In some places the edible flowers are fried in hot oil and served as calcium- and potassium-rich snacks.  When steeped in hot water for several minutes, Moringa flowers turn into flavorful hot tea that also serves a medicinal purpose.

5.  Squash Blossoms

The sunny colors of the squash blossoms are edible.  They are popular in Italy as fried delicacies.  The blossoms are also stuffed with herbs and cheeses to make for a filling menu.  The blossoms can also be made into a tasty soup.

There is actually a very long list of edible flowers that can be enjoyed because of their culinary potential.  The important thing in preparing edible flowers for consumption is that these flowers should be guaranteed safe to eat.  Preferably, the flowers should be grown organically and you are sure they are not treated with harmful pesticides and toxic chemicals.

(Photo credit: Google images)

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