• Feeling peckish? Nibble on a pansy...

    Eating flowers isn’t as exotic as you think.

     

    In Victorian times, they were enjoyed by the British landed gentry for both their culinary and medicinal uses. They then fell out of favour and now seem to be enjoying a revival. 

    Flowers are now used in professional kitchens and even in cocktail bars for drinks such as Rose Martinis. 

    Us Brits are most likely to have come across edible flowers previously in the form of Parma violet sweets or nasturtiums used to garnish restaurant dishes. 

    But all over the world petals are being used in many different ways and you can get some great ideas for recipes by looking further afield than this green and pleasant land. 

    Cooks in the Middle East have been using roses in their dishes for hundreds of years. The aromatic liquor made from roses is used to make exotic jams or diluted with cold water to make a refreshing cordial. 

    Another example is the North African spice blend of ras el-hanout – crushed, dried Damask rose petals blended with spices such as cumin seeds and nutmeg, which can be rubbed into game or lamb and stirred into couscous. Then there’s rose syrup drizzled over sweet, sticky Lebanese pastries.

    A firm favourite are sugary crystallised petals to decorate cakes or to pop into a champagne flute. Petals also make unusual additions to blended teas. Try white tea with rose to cleanse the palate or black Ceylon tea with violets. 

    So, it would appear flowers can be condiments in their own right and are very versatile. 

    But before you tuck into a bowl of blooms you do need to be sure they aren’t poisonous. 

    The flowers of vegetables and herbs are usually safe. Nasturtiums, marigolds and violets are often added to salads or used as garnishes. 

    Most roses are edible but as with all flowers, vegetables and herbs you must wash them well and avoid using chemical pesticides on them or buying ones that have been sprayed with chemicals. If in doubt, please don’t eat them.