A flower, whether wild or domestic, is the colorful, sometimes fragrant production of certain plants (often seen with the stem). More specifically, in botany, it is the characteristic organ of higher plants (phanerogams) comprising protective parts and fertile parts. There are more than 200 edible flowers but only about fifty of these flowers have a truly gastronomic interest. These can be classified into three categories:
- Decorative flowers at flavor neutral and colours attractive, like the blueberry.
- Flowers at s with petals much bigger and a little crunchy, with a flavor fresh barely spicy.
- Flowers spicy, like those of coriander.
Eating flowers is not an invention of the nouvelle cuisine. Since antiquity, through the Middle Ages, the different civilizations have all had flowers on the menu. Indeed Egyptians, Romans, Japanese already used flowers in their gastronomy.
We have always used flowers or floral products in our food: cloves, saffron, broccoli, artichoke, rose water...
However, eating flowers had lost popularity with the advent of refrigeration and the greater variety of foods available. But now, edible flowers are returning more and more the place they deserve on our tables to the highest peaks (massifs) of the Food and gastronomy.
The palette then widened, over the course of travels and thanks to the growing interest in plants: begonia, daylily (also called day lily), a flower consumed for millennia in China - just like the chrysanthemum, the wisteria or camellia or evenhibiscus sabdarriffa originally from Africa which is enjoying growing success ...
Most edible flowers are common in gardens and fields: violet, rose, nasturtium, poppy, daisy, primrose, honeysuckle, marigold, chamomile, mimosa, dandelion, clover, zucchini, borage, acacia flowers , elderberry, lime tree… And many have been used in cooking for hundreds of years: such as dandelion jam, fritters of acacia or elderberry flowers, violet, poppy or rose syrups.
The flowers of aromatic plants are also edible, with a different taste from the leaves: dill, chives, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, mint ...
It is important not to use flowers purchased from a florist because they have all undergone chemical treatments against diseases and predators and for their conservation.
It is best to grow them yourself, in your garden or on your balcony, or to pick them in the countryside, in a place far from cultivated fields or busy roads, such as on the other side of a small wood or d 'a grove, because it constitutes a natural screen of vegetation. Faced with the renewed (…) interest in edible flowers, some organic market gardeners also offer edible flowers, to develop recipes or to decorate dishes.
To wash the flowers, it is necessary to quickly soak in water, take them out and drain them. Most edible flowers are good to eat raw. Thus, they can be added to a green salad (lettuce, batavia, mesclun…) or to a salad of raw vegetables. In summer, you can give salads a punch of color and taste with nasturtiums.
You can also mix the chopped flowers in thick goat cheese (it is ideal to spread) or in cottage cheese: and here is an original sauce for raw vegetables, even in butter or mayonnaise.
You can also eat the cooked flowers. For example, daylilies are very suitable for pan-fried foods. For dessert, donuts are made in spring with acacia or elderberry flowers. For savory lovers, donuts are available with chive, courgette or nasturtium flowers.
It is also possible to make savory pies, made from nasturtium, borage or daylilies.
It can be made into soups, vegetable terrines, omelets, with the flowers of chives, calendula ...
Certain flowers lend themselves well to jams, such as dandelion flowers, violet or rose, already popular in Antiquity. Saffron pistil and rose, on the other hand, serve more as condiments. The flowers are also used to flavor vinegar or oil.
The great classics: vinegars with rose or violet, but also with chive flowers, oil with fennel flowers or oregano flowers.
Edible flowers will only keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. They should not be frozen as this does not give very good results. The best way to store the flowers is to air dry them on a tea towel or cardboard box and then store them once dried in glass jars or paper bags, in the shade. We will then use them all year round in cakes, sauces, creams… Another way to store them: crystallize them in sugar in order to use them later as decoration for cakes.
In addition to being good and giving pretty colors to dishes, flowers are full of virtues: they are rich in minerals, trace elements, and, for the most colorful of them, antioxidants.