By Carol O'Meara, Horticulture Agent, Boulder County
The bravest man I know shudders at the thought of dining at my house during summer. Not because I’m a terrible cook or my food might lead to hospitalization – these risks he faced in World War II and Korea. No, the reason my father fears my table is because the meals I serve blossom with edible flowers.
Delicious, cucumber-like Borage (Borago officinalis) popped into salads or dips, sauteed Daylily buds (Hemerocallis fulva), cheerful pansies (Viola x. Wittrockiana) in festive salads, or Scarlet Runner Bean blossoms (Phaseolus coccineus) highlighting steamed green beans all have a place on the summertime table.
Pansies: Harvest by picking the stem all the way to the plant, keeping the flower intact.
Pop petals into ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze for an elegant touch in drinks, or use fresh in salads.
Roses (Rosa spp.): Pull or snip petals from the bud. The white inner portion of the petal is bitter, so snip it off before using. A rose’s perfume gives a clue to its flavor, and varieties that have a stronger scent generally taste better. Look for those that smell like food; you’ll find roses can be citrusy to spicy, sweet to mild.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Pull the petals from the bud and pinch off the tiny white ends. Lavender can turn bitter when dry; use them fresh for sweetest flavor. Because the taste is bold, a little goes a long way - use petals sparingly.
With many flowers, such as roses, tulips, and lavender, only the petals are edible. Remove the stamens, styles and pistils from inside the flowers, and snip off the outer, green sepals. If the flower is tiny, gently pull the petals from the bud to use. Others, like runner beans, honeysuckle, and pansies may be eaten whole.