Flowers, both domesticated and wild, are readily available throughout Canada. It is amazing the variety, species, colors and shapes that are available in this country.
However, few people realize that many of these flowers are actually edible and some even have medicinal properties. An example of such a flower is in rose.
Wild rose and even garden rose petals can be eaten. They have been used in many cultures to produce items such as rosewater, preserves and jams. These flowers have been traditionally used to remedy stomach ailments. The petals can also be used in a number of ways including:
- additions to salads
- frozen decorations in ice cubes
- floated in punches
- giving a kick to desserts (e.g. ice creams)
Ingredient Alert: The rose flower is not the only part of the plant that can be used! Rose plants produce fruit called hips, that replace the flowers in the autumn.
When ripe, rose hips turn a bright red colour, similar to crab apples. Rose hips are a very high source of vitamin C. The best time to harvest rose hips is after the first frost. Use them whole to make tea, or to flavour jams and jellies.
Another common edible flower is the dandelion.
Dandelions have been used for generations as a herb. Both the slightly bitter leaves and yellow flower petals can be eaten raw in salads. The leaves can also be sautéed, with a little olive oil and sea salt, and eaten as a side dish. The roots can be washed thoroughly and roasted to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The the roasted roots can also be used in combination with coffee to augment the taste.
Flavour Enhancing Idea: Sprinkle some dandelion flower petals on hot, savory fritters to give them a boost of flavour and an addition of colour.
Commercial Availability: I have been able to buy dandelion leaves at many local supermarkets throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
A relation to the dandelion is the common chicory.
Chicory can be used in the exact same manner as the dandelion. Both chicory and dandelion have been used in traditional medicines to treat the liver.
Warning: Know Your Source!
- NEVER ingest plants that have been treated with pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or any other chemicals
- NEVER harvest flowers or plants growing by the roadside
- ALWAYS identify the flower or plant and eat only the edible parts of those plants
- Be very sure of the plant's identification. If you are not entirely sure that a plant is edible, do not eat it!