The use of flowers is seen more and more frequently in a multitude of dishes, some very elaborate and sophisticated and others more simple such as salads. However, although it is a fashion that has become popular in recent years, the use of flowers in gastronomy is quite old. However, before starting to use this type of ingredient, it is important that you know certain important aspects, such as differentiating the types of edible flowers from those that are not, as well as some that can become toxic.
What types of flowers can we consume as food
Edible flowers, as the name suggests, are flowers that can be consumed as food , in the same way that we do it with fruits or vegetables. However, one of the aspects that must be taken into account when consuming this food is that, as with many plants, not all of them are edible. There is a wide variety of flowers that are edible. Despite this, there is also another quite wide variety of flowers that contain toxic substances for health. It must be taken into account that the objective of the flowers is the reproduction of the plant, therefore, until they generate the seed that is usually accompanied by a fruit, the plant will tend to protect the process. In this way, we can find poisonous flowers that, once they have become fruit, are perfectly consumable in the form of food.
For all this, when it comes to consuming flowers as food, the first thing we will have to take into account is to always eat flowers that we know are suitable for consumption . For this reason, the most advisable thing is to do it from flowers that are expressly marketed for this purpose or, if we are sure of the type of plant, we can do it with those of which we have no doubts about their origin. In no case, we should consume flowers taken directly from the field or from environments that are not properly controlled, although at first glance we can identify them with edible flowers, since they can cause confusion and cause poisoning.
What are the uses of edible flowers?
Currently, the most striking use that edible flowers have is the introduction of this ingredient as one more part of any dish. It must be taken into account that edible flowers have a generally strong flavor , in many cases bitter and spicy, something that has nothing to do with the sweet flavors to which the fruit is accustomed. For this reason, they are an interesting part when it comes to adding nuances to sophisticated dishes , whether it is salads such as risottos, pasta, some dishes made from tubers such as yucca, some legumes, creams, and also as an accompaniment in the case of dishes made from meat or fish.
However, the use of edible flowers is not limited only to being part of the dishes. In fact, they can also be used in the preparation of jams and preserves, jellies and dishes in syrup , as well as fermented drinks, with or without alcohol content. In fact, they can also be presented as crystallized flowers, which is achieved by combining the flowers with the white of the egg emulsified with sugar. It is a laborious but very striking dish, which is why it is usually common in many avant-garde restaurants.
Beware of allergies!
We have already commented that flowers are an ingredient that must be taken with caution due to the presence of toxic or poisonous types of flowers . However, within edible flowers, another aspect that must be taken into account before consuming them is their high level of pollen presence . Pollen is a substance that flowers secrete for their reproduction. This substance travels from the male sexual organs of the flower to the female ones, thus producing fertilization and the production of one or more seeds that are usually accompanied by a fruit. However, pollen is one of the substances that produces the most allergies. Therefore, those people who suffer from an allergy to a certain type of pollen should dispense with the consumption of the flowers associated with that variety.
Types of edible flowers that we can include in our dishes
There is a fairly wide variety of types of flowers that can be included in dishes. One of the most recommended ways to do it, especially if you are a novice in this type of cuisine, is to buy the product directly in a market or supermarket where ready-to-eat edible flowers are sold. If you do not have much idea of how to use them, a good option is to include them first in salads, which will allow us to know and identify the flavors, which will allow us to adapt them in the future to different and more elaborate dishes. Some of the more common edible flowers that can be found easily are the following:
- Artichoke flower.
- Broccoli flower.
- Chamomile flower .
- Chive flower.
- Citrus blossom such as lemon, orange or grapefruit.
- Dandelion flower .
- Hibiscus flower.
- Jasmine flower.
- Pansy flower.
- Calendula flower.
- Violet flower.
- Pumpkin flower.
- Zucchini flower.