Edible Flowers

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(BeWellBuzz) Did you know you could eat flowers too? Edible flowers are those flowers that can be consumed without doing any harm to the body. Usually, they are used for garnishes and as part of salads.

Flower cookery has been traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures. Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era during Queen Victoria’s reign. Many edible flowers have been discovered and have become an integral part of most cuisines and medications.

Let us discuss some of the most common edible flowers.

Artichoke

  • Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a flower that is popularly grown in places like Naples and the Mediterranean region. The edible parts of the flower include the lower fleshy base of the buds known as the ‘heart’.
  • Artichokes are very widely used in the Italian cuisine as garnishes for pizzas and sometimes stuffed with meat. They are used as herbs in teas. Besides this, liquors are also produced.
  • Artichokes are fairly good antioxidants and hence are used to prevent cancers. Besides this, they reduce cholesterol levels, prevent coronary diseases and aid digestion.

Brocolli

  • Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is one of the most widely used edible flowers. It is used in a wide range of cuisines.
  • There are two varieties of Broccoli namely the Sprouting Broccoli and the Purple Broccoli. While the former is commonly used, the latter is found in limited parts of the world. Both are equally nutritious.
  • Broccoli is very high in vitamin C content. It is also an excellent dietary fiber. Also, they are known to have anti-viral and anti-cancerous properties. It has been found that broccoli reduces the risk of prostrate cancer and a number of heart diseases.

Chamomile

  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is cultivated in Germany and naturalized in North America. The most common form of Chamomile is in the form of tea. There are many benefits to drinking chamomile infused tea.
  • Firstly, chamomile tea tends to reduce stress and hence it is useful to consume before bed time. It is known to be a diuretic. Because of this, it aids digestion.
  • Chamomile has been used to do away with stomach troubles, and to treat insomnia.

Daisies

  • The daisy (Bellis perennis) is popularly grown in Western and Central Europe. The parts of the flowers consumed are flower buds and petals. They are consumed raw or cooked as part of sandwiches and salads or as a garnish in soups.
  • Interestingly, it is not affected by lawn mowing, and because of this it can be considered as a weed. However, due to the pleasant appearance of the flower, and its nutritional value, it is grown.
  • Daisy flower is also consumed in the form of tea or as a vitamin supplement. Its extract is used as homeopathic treatment for the treatment of wounds after some surgical procedures and blunt trauma.

Elderflower

  • A soft drink made from the flowers of the Elderberry (sambucus nigra) called Elderflower cordial is famous in northern part of Western Europe.
  • Elderflower is used as herbal supplement in the Yugoslavian origin. It is used to treat a variety of ailments such as herpes, fever, ear infections, constipation and rheumatic problems.
  • The elderflower is also known to boost immune system. Caution must be taken that the stems and the leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten.

Hibiscus

  • The Hibiscus flower belongs to the genus Malvaceae. There are several hundred species of the flower. Besides being an edible flower, a species of Hibiscus called Kenaf is used specifically for paper making.
  • There are some varieties of the flower that are used as food for larvae of various types of insects. Some species of Hibiscus are commonly used to make juices and tea. They are also used to make Jamaican rum and wine. The petals of these flowers can be used as a garnish for various Mexican dishes. The Roselle is a species of the Hibiscus flower that is used as a vegetable.
  • The Hibiscus flower has a high content of Vitamin C and is a very good diuretic. Besides this, Hibiscus is used to treat blood pressure. In Ayurveda, it is believed that Hibiscus can treat symptoms like cough, hair loss and greying.

Lilac

  • The lilac or the syringa is a flowering woody plant that is grown in Southeastern Europe and Eastern Asia.
  • Lilacs are commonly used as candied flowers on cakes, pies and cookies. It is also used as a garnish with brown rice. It makes a refreshing dessert in the form of yogurt. Lilacs have a tinge of bitterness in them. However, they have a great flavor. They have a citrus taste and blend well in salads, egg whites and sugar.
  • Lilacs are used to treat a few ailments. It is used to treat intestinal worms and malaria. It is also used to alleviate fever.

However, one must understand that not all flowers are edible. Many flowers are not only uneatable, but they can be poisonous too. Moreover, some edible flowers are edible after appropriate preparation. Also, in many cases, not all parts of the flowers are edible and only petals of the buds can be consumed not the fully matured flowers.

To conclude, one must be properly informed regarding edible flowers before experimenting!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_flowers

http://www.ageless.co.za/elderflower.htm

http://ag.arizona.edu/yavapai/publications/yavcobulletins/Edible%20Flowers.pdf

http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/blflowers.htm

http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain.htm

Edible Flowers
Edible Flowers

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