Friday, July 13, 2012

Flowers as Food Part 1 : Its More than Just Sunflowers !

By Mary Oleksowicz , MSTOM , L. Ac

As my gardening hobby continues to develop, I realized that I would like to get the “most bang for my buck“   from the landscaping that I am applying to my front yard. If I am spending just as much time ( if not more)  cultivating flowers as I am growing vegetables, I would love for them to provide additional benefits. The use of flowers as an edible garnish is an increasing trend among chefs and “foodies” in the NYC area. Despite the trend, the use of flowers as food can be found in many ancient cultures, in fact, the dandelion is a bitter referred to many times throughout the Old Testament. Many plants that are mainstays of the traditional flower garden can be used in everyday fare.

While flowers may be delicate and pretty, eating inedible parts or plants can have detrimental side effects. NOT EVERY FLOWER IS EDIBLE. You must verify the species of the flower and edible portions with outside resources. If you are not sure, DO NOT EAT IT !!  Additionally, the pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic and may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Sufferers of asthma, ragweed, and hayfever should not consume composite flowers, and may have extreme allergic reactions. Please be certain to verify the flower type before consumption  !

In addition to allergy awareness regarding flowers, there are several other tips that can be provided regarding the use of edible flowers.

1. Be sure of the plant you are harvesting. Be certain of which parts are or are not edible.  Verify the species with reliable sources.

2. Make certain the flowers are harvested from a pesticide free zone. If you are harvesting from your own garden this determination should be easy. AVOID roadside harvesting, as many areas apply herbicides and pesticides.

3. Begin using flowers in small quantities. Some people may have a hard time initially digesting flowers.

4. Use additional spices sparingly, as strong flavors will mask the taste of the flowers. In general, garlic and onion usage should be minimized.

 I hope this discussion begins you foraging around your own garden. You may be surprised how many edibles you have in your front yard. Next time, we will discuss use of these edible flowers.


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