Sure spring flowers are pretty - but did you know they also look, and taste, great out of the garden? Flowers can be more than a feast for the eyes. Many are pleasing to the palate, too.
Savvy cooks forage their flowerbeds, not only their vegetable gardens when prepping for meals. More and more restaurants and bakeries are using petals for presentation along with leaves and stems from certain flowers to introduce exotic flavors. Caterers and bed and breakfast operators offer blooms as artistic table fare - perhaps in homemade rose petal ice cream, locked within ice cubes floating on lavender lemonade or as garlands encircling wedding cakes.
"Edible flowers are coming back into vogue largely under the influence of other countries and other cultures," says Cyndi Lauderdale, a county extension agent in Wilson, N.C. "Flowers also were used as part of the daily diet by early American settlers who'd acquired the taste."
Fresh flowers can be used as a garnish, as the makings for salads or as components of casseroles or pastas. Some bulbs, like tulips, grow into colorful catchalls that can be stuffed with a cheese spread or pate. Flowers can be candied, stir-fried, made into teas and wines, minced and added to butters, pancakes, waffles and crepes, converted into jams and jellies or pickled. Some petals are suspended in cooking vinegars or salad dressings.
"Creative chefs are coming up with new uses and new recipes all the time," Lauderdale says. But not all flowers are edible so be sure that you do your homework before nibbling the blossoms.
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