Cooking with Flowers - A New Addition To The Kitchen

Pleasing to the sight and heavenly to our sense of smell, flowers are used for all sorts of special occasions and home decoration. Oils from flowers are used in aromatherapy, and certain flowers are even used as a dietary therapy due their medicinal value. Now, cooking with flowers is the latest addition to kitchens around the world, as cooks, chefs and parents introduce edible flowers into their cuisine.

Edible flowers are high in nutritional value including vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients. Flowers also add scent and flavor to foods and are enjoyable to use as a cooking ingredient. With health being closely related to what we put into our bodies, we can consider cooking with flowers to be healthy and exciting cuisine.

Some Flowers with Medicinal Value

1. Osmanthus Flower
Helps relieve coughing and aids in dissolving phlegm.

2. Chrysanthemum Flower
Helps dispel pathogenic heat, improve eyesight, ease red eyes, benefit the lungs and treat ulcers. Also effective in improving the immunity of capillary vessels and conditions of aging.

3. Chinese Rose Flower
Can help with blood circulation, assist in regulating menstrual cycles, aids in digestion by promoting bile secretion and nourishing the intestines.

4. Peony Flower
A bitter tasting energy herb that nourishes the blood and liver and also Yin energy. It is used to treat diarrhea, irregular menstrual periods, relieves acne and improves complexion. Often used to treat depression and bad temper.

There are many different flowers that can be used for their medicinal properties and flavors when added to cuisine, but there are also toxic flowers so an awareness level needs to be taken into account before one begins to cook with edible flowers. The key word here is "Edible." Use an edible flowers chart as a guide to knowing which flowers are edible, their flavors and medicinal properties.

It also beneficial for one to learn how to select the edible flowers being cooked with and how to wash and care for them prior to cooking.

Follow these rules when cooking with edible flowers.

1. Flower ID

Make a positive identification of the flower(s) you will be cooking with. Ensure they are on the edible flowers chart, even if the recipe has named them. Supermarkets usually carry edible flowers, normally found in the fresh herbs section. It is essential to check the quality of the flowers, as they are highly perishable and expensive at the same time. Plus, you want to be cooking with fresh edible flowers just like any other produce you select.

2. Chemical Free

Another vital rule is to ensure the flowers you are selecting have not been tainted with chemicals of any kind. Florists must spray their flowers in order to prolong their life. Do not purchase edible flowers from a florist or flower shop of any kind. A potted plant from a greenhouse will have been chemical treated in order to help it not outgrow its pot. Wait 3-4 weeks before using edible flowers from a potted plant in your cooking. If you buy from a farmers market or grocery store, check with the seller whether the flowers have been treated with any kind of chemicals.

3. Strange as this may seem, do not wash the edible flowers. Look for any bugs on the flowers and gently brush them away. Use gloves if you wish. Now you understand why it is important that chemicals not be used on the flowers. The best way to know for sure if they are chemical free is to grow them yourself and use natural ways to control pests. This is a valuable idea if you find you really enjoy cooking with edible flowers, and it would definitely save you money in the long run.

4. The edible flowers should have a taste that matches the chart and if specified to taste good they should taste exactly that. Their taste should also complement the dish you are surrounding it with and ensuring the other ingredients are not overpowering the delicate taste of the flowers.

Cooking with edible flowers is a healthy addition to cuisine, exciting and new, and adds original flavors to desserts especially. Remember to buy fresh, chemical free flowers and brush of bugs but do not wash. Let me leave you with a place to get fabulous edible flowers recipes.
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