Edible flowers add natural color and elegance to any dish. Here are my top tips for picking, storing and decorating:
1. Keep it clean and green
Pesticide use is, unfortunately, pretty commonplace among commercial growers, so it’s important to select unsprayed, edible flowers from a trusted organic garden like Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio. Don’t eat flowers obtained from a florist or plucked from the roadside. Select flowers that are freshly opened, perky and free of any bug-eaten holes or spots!2. Rinse and repeat
Rinse flowers in a bath of water, and perk them up by dropping into a bowl of ice water for 30 to 60 seconds. Drain your petals well on paper towels. (Nothing worse than ruining the top of a cake with soggy flowers!)
3. Taste test
Keep in mind that flowers aren’t just pretty, they’re flavorful too. Like herbs, some flowers are mildly sweet, others are spicy, and some have bitter, anise flavors. Taste flowers before deciding how you’re going to use them for a garnish that complements but does not clash!
4. Pinch the petals
The whitish part of the petal that connects to the stem can be bitter. The petals are the sweetest part of the flower; you can remove the rest. Daylilies are a good example: while the petals have a delicate taste and crunch (crudite, anyone?), you want to remove the stamen and the pistils. No one wants a mouth full of pollen!
5. Use ’em or lose ’em
Store flowers in the fridge until you’re ready to prettify your culinary creations. Petals keep for a day in a sealed bag, but your goal should be to use them within a few hours. Freeze leftovers in ice cubes for the prettiest addition to punches and other beverages.
6. Get creative!
From cupcakes to salads, edible flowers are a welcome addition. Violets, pansies, roses and lavender are my favorites. And I keep a batch of Lavender Rose Petal Sugar, as featured on my book Cook Yourself Sexy, in the cupboard to add an aromatic boost to just about any recipe that calls for sugar.
Recipe: Lavender Rose Petal French Toast
My beautiful mother taught me that flowers bring joy to any occasion. No words, cards, or hugs can compare to flowers—especially roses, her favorite. With two of my favorite edible flowers in this recipe, you can’t go wrong. Start your day with the joy of French toast and flowers! Enjoy, sunshine; be clean and green.
Makes 4 servings
Lavender rose petal sugar
1 cup sugar
1⁄8 cup dried lavender petals
1⁄4 cup dried rose petals (optional)
3⁄4 cup almond milk
2 egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 slices thick-sliced brioche, challah, or whole grain bread
To make the lavender rose petal sugar:
Place all the ingredients for the lavender rose petal sugar in a food processor. Pulse until combined.
To make the French toast:
1 Spray a 10-inch nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat.
2 Whisk together the almond milk, eggs, egg whites, cinnamon, and lavender rose petal sugar in a shallow dish.
3 Soak a slice of bread in the batter. Place it in the hot skillet.
4 Cook over medium-high heat for approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the surface is golden brown and crisp. Watch the heat, as the sugar will burn quickly. Repeat with the remaining slices.