by Carol M. Bareuther, R.D.
NUTRITION FACTS ABOUT EDIBLE FLOWERS
There’s not been much nutrition research on edible flowers since they rarely show up on everyday or even special occasion grocery lists. But what we do know seems good. Roses, rose hips, dandelion blossoms and dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins C and A. Certain other flowers seem to have nutritional benefits, too.
More is not always better, though, as eating too many daylilies, for example, can have a laxative effect. Talk with your health-care provider before taking flower extracts as a supplement.
WHERE AND HOW TO BUY EDIBLE FLOWERS
Not all species of flowers—or all flowers within a family—are edible, cautions Chef Eric Arrouze, a Canadian who teaches cooking to the world. "If purchasing flowers at a farmer's market, ask where they come from and if they’re edible. Don’t buy from a florist, as the flowers will have been sprayed with pesticides. The best bet is to purchase flowers clearly marked ‘edible’ from containers or displays at the market. Look for flowers that are brightly colored, moist and not dry or wilted.”
Grocery stores sometimes sell small packages of the flowers in their produce section.
HOW TO STORE EDIBLE FLOWERS
Flowers are highly perishable and best used immediately. If you can’t use what you’ve purchased in one meal, says Chef Arrouze, "wrap the flowers in several sheets of damp paper towel; then tuck them in a plastic bag and seal with a Ziploc top. They will stay good up to five to seven days this way."
EDIBLE FLOWERS HISTORY AND EATING IDEAS
The use of flowers in cooking dates back thousands of years, says Kitty Morse, author of Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion With Recipes. “For example, the Romans used borage—an edible herb with a faint cucumber taste and pretty blue flower—to make wine. They believed drinking it would increase strength.”
Today, people use flowers in a variety of ways. "Try zucchini flowers stuffed with lobster mousse,” "Cornflowers taste like lettuce and are excellent tossed into salads.” suggests Chef Arrouze. Add a few pansies for some fun color, but remove the bitter stem first, he recommends.
CAROL M. BAREUTHER, R.D., is a nutritionist with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Last updated and/or approved: March 2010. First appeared in March/April 2008 former print magazine. Bios current as of March 2008.
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