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May 4, 2018
Everything you need to know about edible flowers….

It may seem like a trend that began a few years ago… the coexistence of flowers and food… but, this trend dates back thousands of years ago… From Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, all the way to far-off China and Mesopotamia. Countless of cultures used flowers in the kitchen. At some point, this combination started to diminish, until all of a sudden – a few years ago – it came back to the forefront. Now, even though you see it and you like it so, SO much, you still stop and wonder “are flowers really safe to eat”? My answer to you is, “Of course they are! As long as you follow some basic rules as to which ones you choose.” So, how about we take a closer look at these edible flowers, get to know them a little better and also try making some delicious recipes with them!

Which flowers can you -safely- eat?

The truth is that there is a large variety of edible flowers. More than you can imagine. There are the ones that are widely known and used, like pansies, marigolds and of course, roses… but there are many more that you may not even imagine or may not even know they exist! We won’t refer to all of them in this diary. We will get you acquainted with the ones that can easily make your kitchen – and your cooking – more beautiful!

Edible flowers in detail:

Begonias, elderflowers and edible orchids are some of the edible flowers that you come across, especially during the summer months. Acacias, almond blossoms, violets, geraniums, jasmines, carnations, hibiscus and calendula, as well as lavender and lemongrass. Carrying on with apple blossoms, flowering watercress, poppies, lilacs and orange blossoms; and to complete this short list (!) we will add, chamomile flowers, chrysanthemums, peach blossoms, orange blossoms and last, are the two of the most favored and popular flowers that are found on our table so very often - the artichoke flower and the pumpkin flower!


So, you’ve chosen the ones you like best. How do you choose the “right” ones?

The “right” edible flowers are the ones that are solely cultivated for consumption purposes my friends! This means, that you don’t go looking for them in flower shops or plant nurseries, but in special stores that buy from edible flower producers. They should have grown naturally, without any chemicals or pesticides. Also, before adding a flower to our cuisine, make sure of the following:

  • Make absolutely sure that the flowers you have chosen are truly edible and fit for consumption. There are many beautiful flowers but, unfortunately, many of them are toxic and not friendly towards our… stomach!
  • Always choose flowers with bright colors and strong petals. Avoid flowers that look wilted, have faded colors and – of course – ones that have not bloomed yet (meaning the buds!).
  • The petals are the part of the flower that is most used in cooking, whether in sweets, desserts, salads or main dishes. But, this does not mean that you can’t use other parts also. In order to do this though, you need to have a good idea on whether or not these parts are fit to be eaten. You see, some parts of the flowers may be bitter and inedible. What does this mean? It means that you should opt for the petals, just to be on the safe side!
  • Like all vegetables, edible flowers also need to be washed before you use them. Check for any bugs that happen to still be clinging on to your flower and remove them. Wash and pat your flowers dry with some paper towels. These specific flowers should be used immediately after buying them. In case you want to expand their life span a little, simply store them in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, placed in the vegetable section.

Where to use them…

As mentioned above - in sweets, desserts, main dishes and salads. You can also sugar coat them and turn them into candied flowers so that you can decorate your cupcakes or cakes with them! You can add them to your tea, use them to add a lovely aroma to your homemade syrups, lemonades or cocktails! Below, I have some unique recipes that are not only delicious but have a wonderful, flowery appearance!

Jello with edible flowers and fruit

Jello with edible flowers and fruit by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Edible flower cookies

Edible flower cookies by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Ginger cordial with edible flowers

Ginger cordial with edible flowers by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Winesicles

Winesicles by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Do edible flowers have calories?

They’re flowers!!! What calories could they possibly have??!! I don’t think it’s even worth talking about their calories… But, I do believe we should talk about their nutrients, since many of them contain vitamins, minerals, trace elements and flavonoids (their wonderful colors give this away), that are so valuable for your body. A word of warning - even though they have so many benefits for your health, they are still considered a dangerous food for those who suffer from allergies.

Now that you know quite a bit about edible flowers, I believe you are ready to put them in your kitchen and into your cooking! Add color, flavor and style to your dishes and sweets. As always, I look forward to seeing all of your beautiful creations and wonder how far your imagination can take you.. this time! :-)

 

Akis

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