Styleguide: Edible Flowers
Edible florals are everywhere, and with spring on the way, flowers will be bursting with life, flavour and colour inspiration.
We've seen a sharp increase in their culinary use, and the annual National Garden month provides a timely segue to this topical theme, which will surprise and delight your audience and make the most of Mother Nature’s magnificent palette.
Perusing this unbelievably long list of edible flowers from the Royal Horticultural Society, we were tickled with the lovely list of ingredients masquerading as common-or-garden plants and flowers. Pansy blossoms for added panache in crepes and tarts; arugula flowers for a feisty peppery salad - this opens up a whole new world of culinary creativity.
A few of the more familiar faces include: Courgette Flowers, a popular choice for sweets and salads for quite a while because of their sweet, delicate taste and yellow petals; Tulbaghia Veolacia, also known as Society Garlic, the purple flowers are perfect for boosting the flavour of a salad while also adding some pretty colour; Nasturtiums, used in cooking for centuries, these pepper-filled orange flowers bring a bigger dash of colour than similar-tasting watercress; Rose Petals, the light and slightly-flavoured petals a perfect accompaniment to many sweets; Borage, vibrant blue flowers with a light cucumber flavour, often used in drinks such as Pimm’s or perfect with fish; and herbal flowers such as Lavender or Elderflower which have subtle flavours that complement many dishes.
Seasonal picking is crucial to quality and story, but of course, the wonderful art of preserving can be brought into play to extend the lifespan and versatility of your beautiful blooms. And depending on your audience, the design of a dish is just as important as the ingredients.
The absolute reigning goddesses of floral-inspired patisserie are Claire Clark and Sarah Crouchman of Pretty Sweet.
Their craftmanship is sublime and beautifully considered, with story and aesthetic as important as the ingredients and flavours within. Our favourite example is their Elderflower Mousse and Strawberry Dessert; a combination of elderflower and strawberry, preserved and prepared into cordial, gin, purée, and mousse. Bold use of colour, with a delicate strawberry flower and a vivid blue contrast in borage garnish... to us, this is the epitome of a holistic, high-end interpretation of the edible floral vibe.
Finding your flowers
It's crucial that the flowers are pure, organic and untreated with chemicals or pesticides to be truly edible. You must know where they have been grown and for them to be from a reputable grower - it’s not recommended that you buy or pick flowers at random, as they could be contaminated in any number of ways.
So it's straight to Maddocks Farm Organics, where fresh and fanciful culinary blooms abound, and you can buy your supply online or even head to Devon to immerse yourself in their edible flower farm for inspiration. They have a great recipe archive, spanning cocktails and drinks to sweet and savoury, and we are particularly intrigued by this Nasturtium Pesto. Without doubt, an important address for the little black book.
Bringing the garden into the kitchen can create a great spring time vibe. From brilliant salads and fragrant cakes to quirky fish dishes, there are hundreds of different edible flower ideas, and a little experimentation will certainly add an on-trend dimension to your dishes. Get to know your blooms and you will bring a breath of fresh air and colour to your pop up, demo or product launch.