Monday, May 5, 2008

From Garden to Plate

The sky is clear. The sun is shining brightly. Spring is aglow and bursting with color. The April rains have come and gone. Their job is complete, they have left May flowers and I am hungry for slow, lazy days and edible flowers.

Edible flowers add the perfect touch to desserts, salads and drinks. I especially love flowers crystallized. They instantly transform delicate flowers to candy like beauties. Before you don your plate with flowers there are a few rules to enjoying their beauty and taste.

First, make sure they are not treated with any insecticides. The best way to insure safe flowers is to grow your own. Second, if you are allergy-prone, it's best to skip flowers altogether. And last and most importantly, always check to see if they are edible. Some common edible flowers are Dandelion, Fuchsia, Impatiens, Jasmine, Lilac, Primrose, Pansy, Safflower and Squash blossom. A few flowers to avoid are Buttercup, Daffodil, Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Mistletoe and Sweet pea.

This list is by no means complete. You can search the web for a more extensive list. There are several books on the subject as well.

Edible Flowers: Desserts and Drinks by Cathy Wilkinson Barash
Edible Flowers: From Garden to Kitchen by Kathy Brown
Edible Flower Garden by Rosalind Creasy

So, go ahead and enjoy the warm spring days ahead and don't forget to take some time to eat the flowers. The edible, safe and insecticide free, flowers.

Crystallized Flowers
Crystallized flowers can instantly transform any dessert to something extra special.

1 egg white
caster sugar (superfine sugar)
Edible flowers (free of chemicals)
wax paper
paintbrush and tweezers

Lightly beat egg white. Carefully hold one flower at a time with tweezers. Paint each petal evenly with egg white. Sprinkle sugar on all surfaces. Place flowers on wax paper to dry for at least an hour. After the first drying check for any missed surfaces. Reapply egg white and sugar to any uncovered surfaces.

Let dry complete for 48 hours. Sort, layer (with wax paper) and store flowers in an airtight jar for up to three months.

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