As the garden is dappled with sunshine and flowers are in full bloom, edible flowers are a beautiful addition to many dishes all summer long and a wonderful way to freshen up your plate. Perfect for prettifying salads, desserts and even drinks, they can make any dish look special and are sure to get a few ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs.’
We asked our friends over at The Simple Things for a little edible flower inspiration with the help of writer and forager, Lia Leendertz.
Roses have a delicate floral flavour and taste stronger and sweeter the stronger the scent. Crystallised they can be sprinkled onto cakes, ice cream or desserts. Use this technique on any edible flowers. Violas and primroses look very pretty crystallised whole.
1 egg white
Step 1. Snip the base off each petal and discard before you start as it tastes slightly bitter.
Step 2. Dip the remaining petal in the egg white then into the sugar, using a teaspoon to make sure it is covered.
Step 3. Transfer each petal to a wire rack and leave to dry overnight. They should be dry and encrusted in sugar, ready for scattering.
Floral ice cubes make a great addition to home-made lemonade or a jug of Pimm’s.
There is just one trick you need to know: fill the ice cubes with water halfway first, drop in your chosen flower or petal, and freeze. Only when it’s frozen solid should you fill the ice cube tray right to the top and freeze again. The two stages help to anchor the flowers in the centre of the cube – without it they would float to the top.
Borage is the edible flower that best straddles the sweet and savoury worlds. It has a delicate cucumber taste that is particularly welcome in a glass of Pimm’s or any other fruity cocktail (floating or trapped prettily in an ice cube), but equally as happy in a salad. This is as simple and as cucumbery as it gets: cucumber, lots of dill and a scattering of borage flowers.
Serves two for lunch, with bread, or four as a side salad
Small bunch of dill
A splash of extra virgin olive oil
A splash of white wine vinegar
A handful of borage flowers
A few dill florets
Step 1. Use a mandolin or a peeler to snake long, thin ribbons of cucumber into a large bowl. Finely chop the dill and sprinkle it over the cucumber ribbons, then add the oil and vinegar. Use your hands to carefully turn the ribbons in the herbs and dressing.
Step 2. Arrange the cucumber ribbons in a bowl. Scatter over the borage and dill florets and serve.
Step 3. Alternatively, change the method to make an easy fridge pickle. First, salt the ribbons and leave them to drain for an hour. Pat them dry, brush off the salt and lay them in a Tupperware box. Sprinkle over the dill then pour in enough vinegar to cover. Leave in the fridge overnight. Just before serving, remove from the vinegar and sprinkle with the flowers and a little extra dill.
Not all flowers are edible, so make sure you know what you’re picking. Here are three that look and taste utterly delicious.
Cornflower ‘Blue Boy’
I grow this lovely bold blue cornflower every year. It looks great on the plot, but also makes a wonderful cut flower and adds a beautiful splash of colour to salads and ice cubes.
Pot marigold ‘Art Shades’
This is the first year I have grown this particular marigold and it has proved a winner – in all shades of orange, from palest apricot to free-range yolk. Marigolds also attract bees that help to pollinate your fruit and veg flowers.
This is one of David Austin’s English roses and has beautiful ruffles of pale pink petals with a delicate fruity scent with a touch of honey – a perfect rose for creating pastel-coloured, crystallised petals.