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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Edible Flowers Growing in the Garden

There are a lot of edible flowers growing in the gardens - some of which you may not even know are perfectly edible. Rose petals, are delicious, fresh, and a source of vitamin C. Think about using rose petals in a simple syrup. You can do this by boiling some water, removing from the heat, then add a handful of petals and sugar to taste - let steep like you would a tea. About an hour later you can strain the petals and whala! You've got rose petal simple syrup for your next cocktail party.
Phlox is a gorgeous bubbly flower blooming this time of year. It is a perennial and common in many cottage garden themes. They are very resistant to insects and pests, making them a winner in my book. Phlox flowers can be used to decorate cakes and cupcakes or used in fruit salads or to adorn a plate for a whimsical presentation. Basil loves eating phlox flowers. He gets excited to eat them just as he would with a cat snack out of a bag. He's a curious cat and tends to have good taste when it comes to edible flowers.
Calendula is a very happy yellow to orange flower. It is also known as pot marigold (not to be confused with the common marigold we often find in nurseries). Calendula has also been dubbed "the poor man's saffron" since it can lend similar coloring and flavoring as saffron in specialty dishes. The heads can be quite resinous and bitter so it's best to delicately remove the petals and really only use the petals in cooking. Calendula petals can be used in rice dishes, as well as soups, salad dressings, and desserts.

Bee balm flowers are also quite edible. As you've already seen, the flowers and leaves can be infused in honey to make a delightful medicinal honey traditionally used anytime there is a sign of sore throat or cold. The petals and flowers can be used to decorate desserts, salads or salad dressing. Since the smell and taste seem close to oregano, it can be used/substituted for oregano for a unique and whimsical twist.
Also growing in the garden is African Basil. The brilliant purple spike flowers radiate in the summer garden. Honey bees and butterflies simply love these flowers. They are irresistible to them! I love them, too! I often use the flowers to add zeal to tomato salad or pizzas. The flowers can be used in so many ways, such as garnishing fish with a splash of lemon. You can also make a tantalizing basil simple syrup for a complex martini! I hope this fun blog helps you see flowers in a different way and that you are encouraged to not only stop and smell the flowers, but to munch on them, too!

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