Tips For Selecting and Preparing Edible Flowers

With the cold months bearing down on us, it’s a good time to bring some life into the kitchen. Use our guide to selecting and preparing edible flowers to liven up any dish.

Know your flowers
If you are foraging for flowers, make sure that you properly identify the plant before choosing to cook with it. Not all flowers are edible, and some not only taste bad but can cause serious health problems when ingested. Take a long a flower identification guide when searching for edible buds. Reference it when deciding if you should cook with a certain flower. Make sure the leaves, stems, and petals are the same as the flower profile in your guidebook. Many flowers are similar but have tiny differences in leaf shape or petal composition. If you know someone who is experienced with cooking with flowers, see if you can go along when they gather their next batch of edible flowers. They may have specific pointers about the plants available in your area.

Know the source
Many farmers use pesticides and fertilizer when growing their crops. Most flowers that can be found at the grocery store or florist are not suitable for consumption. Unless it is labeled “edible,” be sure to check with the florist or store manager to see if you can use the blooms in your dish. Be sure that you know where the flowers come from and who grew them. Pesticides and other chemicals can greatly affect the edibility and delicate taste of flowers, so try to find farmers that do not use them. To speak directly with a grower, head to your local farmers market. The vendors at the market will likely either be the farmers or people who work with the farmer and will know exactly what, if any, chemicals were used to grow their products.

Properly harvest the blooms
Place flowers in a vase with water for temporary storage. Before using them, immerse the blooms in water to rid them of any dirt or insects. Next, pat them dry. Cut the flower where it meets the stem, directly below the flower base, if you will be using the entire flower. Many baking & pastry arts students use just the petals. To do so, carefully use clean, dry fingers to pluck the petal from the bud. You can also mince them into fine pieces.

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