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Edible Flowers

When most people think of edible flowers, they think of the flowers made from sugar and fondant included as edible decorations on wedding cakes. However, there is a true culinary delight that incorporates eating raw and cooked flowers – the kind that you grow in your garden. Before you run out to your local florist and buy flowers to include in your next dinner, however, consider these tips for choosing edible flowers:

  • Be careful. Never pick flowers for consumption if they've been exposed to pesticides, or those that grow by the roadside. Flowers from a florist should never be eaten. Since most florists use chemicals and pesticides to keep flowers fresher longer, they are considered poisonous.
  • Remove. For the best flavor, remove the pistils and stamens from the flowers before eating. Also, most varieties of flowers taste best if you remove the sepals. Flowers that taste best with sepals intact are pansies, violas, and Johnny-jump-ups.
  • Pick at peak. Choose flowers at their peak for best flavor, and always harvest in the early mornings, after the dew has evaporated.
  • Stem size. If you are choosing flowers that are long-stemmed, make sure that you place them in a vase of cool water, storing them in a cool place, until you are ready to use them. Short-stemmed flowers should be used within just a few hours of harvesting, or store them loosely between layers of lightweight, damp paper towels.
  • Refrigerator storage. While you can store flowers inside of a plastic bag in your refrigerator, make sure that you rinse them thoroughly before using and inspect for insects and dirt.

If you plan on harvesting flowers in order to dry them for use later, make sure that you choose varieties that will not lose their flavor during the drying process. Start very early in the morning, before the sun rises, and gather flowers before direct sunlight rests upon them. Take them immediately to a prepared, dark, well-ventilated area and hang them upside down by their stems. If you have chosen flowers with little or no stems, you may place them on a screen and allow them to dry. Once your flowers have dried, place them into airtight containers and label them. Store them in a cool, dark place until ready for use.

 

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