Edible Flowers: Eye Candy for the Palate

Trying to figure out what to do with all of the flowers that Aunt Violet got during her stay at the hospital? Remember Euel Gibbons? He was the guy years ago who did the commercials for Grape Nuts cereal. Crunching down on a handful of the stuff, he would exclaim: “Tastes like wild hickory nuts!”

Well, the days are getting shorter and pretty soon the harvest season will be upon us. Those of you with gardens and mouths watering with anticipation remember last year’s fresh fruits and vegetables, and maybe even herbs that came straight to your plate. Some may have even ventured out to pick fruit from an orchard or made regular trips to the local farmer’s market. Here’s another way to add flavor and color to those fall dishes that you may not have thought of: Why not add some fresh flowers?

A lot of folks have heard that rose hips are an excellent source of vitamin C. You might have even listened to great granddad tell stories about dandelion wine, but did you know there are whole lot of other flowers that are edible and some of them even taste good? Calendula, marigolds, nasturtium, viola, and pansy can all be used in the kitchen. How about begonias gladiolus and tulips? Add them to recipes, use them as a garnish to add color, or decorate a cake.

There are many good books on the subject, (don’t forget Euel’s “Stalking The Wild Asparagus.) Edible Flowers: From Garden To Palate by Cathy Wilkinson is one of my favorites. The Edible Flower Garden by Rosalin Creasy and Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion With Recipies, top out the list of good references.

Still not comfortable about munching down on the flowers you just bought from K-Mart? Seabreeze Organic Farms in San Diego (619) 481-2891specializes in exotic herbs and flowers. Seeds of Change, in Santa Fe, (505) 983-8956 has a large catalog of all kinds of edible flowers.

So the next time you have some freshly cut flowers on your table as a centerpiece for company, you might just want to reach up and grab a snackâÂ?¦as long as nobody’s watching.

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