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Garden Article - Edible Flowers and Recipes
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Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers
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flowerHave you ever been to a restaurant where they have served you a beautiful salad with flower petals scattered around the plate? Or maybe you have had a cake decorated with flowers on top?

Perhaps you have visited a Tea Room and were served flower syrup. Edible flowers are the new rage in haute cuisine. The look is elegant; yet preparing flowers for eating is simple and fun to do.

The amazing part to edible flowers is that in spite of it being the new rage, eating flowers has been going on for centuries. The first mention of people consuming flowers was as far back as 140 BC! Did you realize that broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and broccoflower are all flowers? Or that the spice saffron is the stamen from the crocus flower? Capers are unopened flower buds to a bush native in the Mediterranean and Asian nations.

In regions such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe and India, floral waters such as rosewater and orange flower water are used to flavor candies to meats to beverages! France has a spice mixture known as "Herbes de Provence" which has dried lavender flowers in it. North Africa has an herbal mixture too, which contains rosebuds and lavender. The green liqueur, Chartreuse, contains carnations.

There are a few cautions one should remember before harvesting any flowers:

(a) Do not harvest any flowers that could have been exposed to animal excretement.

(b) Do not harvest any flowers that have had insecticides sprayed on them.

(c) Do not harvest any flowers that have had fertilizers sprayed on them unless specified for food consumption.

(d) Do not harvest any flowers from the side of roads where they have been exposed to trash, carbon monoxide etc.

(e) If you are unsure if it is edible, then do not eat it. Caution is always the best policy.

(f) If you have any allergies, consult your physician before consuming edible flowers.

(g) Do not eat any flowers from florists as they have been sprayed with pesticides.

(h) Do not pick any flowers that show signs of disease or have been eaten by insects.

 

Some of the more common EDIBLE FLOWERS in your garden:

Angelica Anise Hyssop

Apple Blossom

Artichoke

Arugula

Banana

Basil

Bee Balm

Borage

Burnet

Calendula

Carnation

Chamomile

Chicory

Chives

Chrysanthemum

Cilantro/Coriander

Citrus

Clover

Cornflower/Bachelor Buttons

Dandelion

Daylily

Dianthus

Dill

Elderberry

English Daisy

Fennel

Freesia

Fuchsia

Gardenia

Garlic

Geraniums

Gladiolas

Hibiscus

Hollyhock

Honeysuckle

Hyssop

Iceland Poppy

Impatiens

Jasmine

Johnny Jump Up

Lavendar

Lemon Verbena

Lilac

Linden

Mallow

Marigold

Marjoram

Mint

Mustard

Nasturtium

Oregano

Okra

Onion

Orange Blossom

Pansy

Passionflower

Pea

Pineapple Sage

Primrose

Radish

Red Clover

Redbud

Rose

Rosemary

Rose of Sharon

Runner Bean

Safflower

Sage

Savory

Scented Geranium

Snapdragon

Society Garlic

Squash Blossom

Sunflower

Sweet Marigold

Sweet William

Thyme

Tuberous Begonia

Tulip

Viola

Violet

Winter Savory

Yucca

Pick your flowers in the morning when their water content is at its highest. Then bathe the flowers gently in a salt-water bath. Immediately drop them in ice water for 1 minute. Dry on a paper towel. For best results, use your flower petals immediately (not the stamen or the stems), or store the whole flower in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight.

Flowers can be used for a multitude of dishes from garnishes to salads. Try freezing petals in ice cube trays filled with water for a unique addition to your favorite lemonade or iced tea!

CANDIED FLOWERS

1 egg white (please use powdered egg whites to avoid salmonella)

100 proof vodka

superfine granulated sugar

thin artist's paintbrush

violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea, pinks, scented geraniums

wire rack

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add a couple of drops of vodka to help the flowers dry quicker. Using fresh picked flowers, paint each flower individually with beaten egg white using the artist's paintbrush. When thoroughly coated, sprinkle with fine sugar and place on the wire rack to dry. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the touch. They can be stored in an airtight container and put in the freezer for up to a year. A simple bakery cake can be turned into a work of art by garnishing with candies flowers. Will last approximately 6 months!

Idea: Try a chocolate cake decorated with fresh raspberries and candied rose petals.

FLORAL LIQUEUR

4 cups vodka or brandy

1-cup sugar

1 - 2 cups flowers

Place lightly bruised petals in a jar with vodka or brandy and steep for 2 days. Then, add sugar and steep for 2 weeks, shaking vigorously once or twice a day to let sugar dissolve. Strain and filter into clean decanter.

Ideas:

rose, carnation, lavendar and mint

orange zest and mint

ginger and pear

peaches and lemon verbena

raspberry and lemon balm

use a dry white wine

FLOWER BUTTER

1/2 - 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals

1 lb. sweet unsalted butter

Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Let mix stand for several hours at room temperature, then refrigerate for several days to bring out the flavour. Can be frozen for several months. Wonderful on breads or used in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.

Ideas: use cream cheese

rose, lavendar or sunflower

add some herbs: basil, thyme, garlic

FLOWER HONEY

1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried petals

1 lb. honey

Add chopped or crushed flowers to honey. Loosely cover jar and place in a pan half full of gently boiling water. Remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove jar from water and let cool to room temperature. Allow jar of honey with flowers to sit for 1 week. Flowers can then be strained out if desired. Will last indefinitely in a cool dark place.

Uses: Tea, salad dressings, on croissants, scones, muffins and bread.

FLOWER JELLY

2 1/2 cups apple juice OR white wine

1 cup fresh rose petals or scented geranium flowers and leaves

4 cups sugar

1/4 lemon juice

1 - 2 drops food coloring (optional)

3 ounces of liquid pectin

fresh flower petals (optional)

Bring juice or wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and steep until liquid has cooled, then strain out flowers leaving only liquid. Combine 2 cups of this flower infusion with sugar, lemon juice and food coloring. Bring to a boil over high heat and as soon as the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin. Return to a rolling boil, stirring, and boiling for exactly 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let jelly cool slightly and add more flower petals (if desired), then pour into sterilized jars. If petals do not stay suspended, stir jelly as it cools until petals stay in place. Process in hot water bath or seal with paraffin. Yields: 4 - 5 half pints

FLOWER OIL

1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried flowers

1 qt. vegetable oil

Add flowers to bottle of oil and place in a pan of water. Simmer water with bottle in it gently for at least 30 minutes. Remove from stove and cool. Cover bottle tightly, and let steep a week before using. If dried flowers are used, they may be left in the oil. Fresh flowers should be drained after one week as they lose their color.

Uses: Salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta, stir-frying. Nasturtium and herb blossom oils are excellent for sautéing. Rose and carnation oils make nice salad dressings.

FLOWER SYRUP

1-cup water (or rosewater) 3 cups sugar

1/2 - 1-cup flower petals, whole or crushed

Boil all ingredients for 10 minutes, or until thickened into syrup. Strain through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Can be added to sparkling water or champagne for a delicious beverage. Or, it may be poured over fruit, pound cake or pancakes.

 

For a partial List of POISONOUS FLOWERS Commonly Found in the Garden please CLICK HERE

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

About The Author

Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cookbook Reviews" and "Cooking With The Seasons", which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet! For more information about Jennifer Wickes or her columns, please go HERE
 
 

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