By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Not long ago I threw a Champagne Garden Party. Driven to offer only elegant hors de oeuvres matched to bubbles, I made everything myself. (Call me a control freak or food snob. I can handle the labels.)
One of my favorite dishes was a romaine salad with homemade Champagne vinaigrette. The best part? Deep purple pansies contrasting bright red strawberries. This was a hit of the party. After all, you eat with your eyes first.
The pansies came from my gardens. I knew they were organic and safe. While their flavor was subtle, their aesthetic was undeniable.
For that party I only needed a handful of flowers. Imagine duplicating this on a large scale for a wedding or convention. To do so, you’ll have to start planning your flower garden now. And, cross your fingers for the right weather and perfect timing of blooms.
Or you can order them from several companies on the web. Marx Foods , for example, offers edible flowers in bulk, shipped FedEx overnight for freshness.
In-house food writer, Matthew Johnson, says, “Herb Blossoms are an integral seasoning. .”
Both Matthew and Kim Brauer, the culinary concierge, offer the following suggestions:
- Chive Blossoms make lovely compound butter and are fantastic on eggs.
- Garlic Flowers add flavor and looks.
- Fennel Flowers are lovely on entrees like pork tenderloin and fish, or as a replacement for tarragon.
- Arugula Blossoms are delicate and very tasty in a low-acidity salad (not too much vinegar) .
“We’ve seen Herb Blossoms used as sticks as cocktail stirrer/garnish,” says Kim. “For example, rosemary blossoms add something extra to a rosemary martini or bloody Mary. Fennel Flowers are good in a bloody Mary or chili martini. Or you can freeze them in ice cubes – made with boiled distilled water for clarity — for use in cocktails.”
A chart of edible flowers and their flavors makes menu planning easier.
DISCLAIMER: Many flower varieties are unsafe to eat. Most often flowers found in stores were grown to be looked at, not eaten. And so, they have likely been sprayed or grown with chemicals that may be unsafe to consume. Edible flowers from specialty suppliers have been selected for color, appearance, AND are grown to be safe for human consumption.