Edible flowers have been around for millennia, so they are not something new. They have been suggested for use by Pliny the Elder in the early Roman Empire and in Chinese medicine even before. These were for medicinal purposes, but flowers can be used for culinary purposes also. Edible flowers do contain nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Why not enjoy the beauty of them and benefits they can provide us in our diet as well.
Edible flowers are used as herbal medicine and in culinary cuisines. They are having a revival of sorts. I am finding more and more that edible flowers are being used in different areas of cuisine. There really is not a cuisine or category of food that edible flowers cannot be used. Yes, that includes soups, sandwiches, main dishes and side dishes, and the more popular sweet category of desserts.
Edible flowers vary just as much as the category of foods. There is at least one flower or more for every category of food. It is mostly a matter of choice for the cook/chef to use what they feel is the best pairing for the dish. For instance, a borage butter or cream cheese is delightful with a simple piece of toast or English muffin, but I don’t think I would pair well with a blueberry muffin. That might require a lemon verbena cream cheese. Yum!
There are many, many edible flowers. Some grow wild, some need to be cultivated. If you wildcraft flowers, it is imperative that you can identify the flower/plant without a doubt. That is 110% positive identification in 3 separate identifiers; ID books, ID websites, and Apps. You also must know that it has not been sprayed with any chemical. There are many “look-a-like” flowers that the untrained eye might not be able to discern the difference. That mistake can be deadly. The safer route is to purchase your edible flowers from a local, organic edible flower grower like Terra Basics.
Here is a recipe for July/August when squash blossoms are abundant.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
The Blossoms and Filling
12 Opened Squash Blossoms
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
1/4 cup (~6 blossoms) Fresh, Chopped Beebalm, (either Red Beebalm (Monarda didyma de s) or Pink/Purple Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) can be used)
1 tbsp (~2-3 sprigs) fresh, chopped Lemon Thyme
Avocado Oil for frying
The Batter (adjust as needed if you prefer a thicker or lighter batter)
1 cup Flour
1 cup Water
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
Mix together cheese, herbs, and egg and mix well. Gently open of blossom and fill with cheese mixture. Twist the blossom top closed. Repeat until all are filled.
Heat oil in a frying pan.
Mix ingredients together for the batter.
Dip each stuffed blossom into the batter and let some excess drip off and then immediately place into the hot oil.
Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Serve over rice for a main dish or as a side dish.
Serve with a garden salad that has been sprinkled with johnny-jump-up, borage, pansy flowers, or other organically grown flower petals like roses, calendula, broccoli flowers, and arugula.