Garden Lifestyle

Edible Flowers for Mothers’ Day

Tomorrow we celebrate our mothers.

  • This garden salad prepared with fresh salad greens, seasonal herbs and garnished with edible flowers is not only beautiful, it is delicious. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Start your flower salad with just-harvested greens--baby lettuces, spinach, mizuna, tatsoi, frisee, and add any herb leaves--arugula, sorrel, chervil, parsley, chickweed, fennel, whatever you have in the garden.
  • The violas are one of my favorite edible flowers because of their appearance--little smiling faces--often with whiskers. Some are more floral than others; most have the flavor of a mild, leaf lettuce.
  • Brassica flowers are some of the tastiest blooms. I eat flowers from kale, broccoli, and mustards. They taste similar to the vegetable from which they come, however, they are sweet and bright in flavor.
  • Lilac blooms are so very fragrant, I just use a few scattered in salads, although they make a lovely syrup for beverages, desserts and ice cream.
  • So many folks spend a lot of time and money trying to eradicate this weed. Dandelion leaves and flowers are full of minerals and vitamins; although they can be bitter, they are great additions to salads, wilted greens, pasta dishes, green sauces, and I make a great veggie burger using the bright yellow petals.
  • While we are on the subject of weeds... this one is an invasive... so do not plant it and even if you remove it from your yard, it will still volunteer. So, instead of being annoyed by this garlic mustard, I use flowers and small leaves in salads and wilt the greens with other greens.
  • There is nothing like an allium to complete a dish, whether it is a salad, soup or sauce. My common chives are just budding up and I can probably harvest a bud or two to spread over my salad. These tiny flowers are very pungent!
  • The only reason I have blooming calendulas right now is because I bought plants from the nursery. These golden petals are delightful on salads, in soups and in baked goods. They are a cool weather annual, so plant them now.
  • Sweet woodruff is planted in my fairy garden in the shady part. This is one of the few herbs that can take part or almost all shade. It is a low-growing ground cover and when in bloom has the aroma of new mown hay and vanilla. I use it to make May Wine and with strawberry and rhubarb desserts.

The spring garden is full of edible flowers right now, which will be totally different from summertime edible blooms. These harbingers are both showy and delicious. A treat for the eye of the beholder as well as the palate. So gather ye blooms while ye May and bring them into the kitchen to create lovely dishes.

And what better time to do this than Mothers’ Day? Tomorrow we celebrate moms across the nation… not that we don’t honor them throughout the rest of the year… so I want to treat the mothers in my family special and I am harvesting the edible blooms in my garden and backyard to garnish a freshly harvested garden green and herb salad. A simple vinaigrette of extra-virgin olive oil, herb, balsamic or wine vinegar, salt and pepper is best to allow the other flavors of the herbs, greens and flowers to shine through.

I will also make a May Wine featuring strawberries and sweet woodruff. Just mash some berries (add just a little sugar if they are tart) with a handful of sweet wooodruff. I infuse the berries and herb in a fruity white wine like a German Rhine Wine, Moselle or Reisling (use white grape juice for non-alcoholic version) overnight or for up to 24 hours. Strain off the berries and herb into a punch bowl or clear glass pitcher. Add a bottle of chilled champagne (or gingerale for no alcohol) and garnish with some small strawberries, woodruff sprigs and flowers, johnny-jump-ups, violets or pansies. Serve in wine glasses or punch cups. To keep cold, add ice or an ice mold with edible flowers frozen inside of them.  

Here’s to celebrating mothers and gardens and spring–Happy Mothers’ Day!

Note: Be sure to properly identify your flowers before eating them. Use organically grown, unsprayed blooms.



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