Eat your bouquet

Capt. and I went to Pazo to celebrate our 2 year anniversary.  We had a really delicious meal full of calamari, lamb chops, scallops, and much more!  It’s a tapas restaurant, so we are permitted to eat a large variety of food!  Honestly though, the part that stuck out to me the most was Capt.’s dessert, which was fall fruit served with lavendar ice cream.  I was so skeptical of the lavendar ice cream, but ended up enjoying it the most!  I’ve told a lot of people about this, only to be looked at a little crazy and asked what it tasted like.  I can’t really explain the flavor, except to say that it really tastes exactly how you would imagine lavendar tasting.  I know, that doesn’t really help.  But really, I enjoyed it so much that I decided that one day I will get my own ice cream maker and pump out lavendar ice cream for all the skeptics!  Yum Yum Yum!

The funny thing is, there are so many edible flowers out there that I’ve never really thought about eating.  And I personally think you could make a lovely bouquet of flowers out of all of them.  And then you can eat it!  I sure do love things that serve multiple purposes!

Apple Blossoms Apple Blossoms have a delicate floral flavor and aroma. They are a nice accompaniment to fruit dishes and can easily be candied to use as a garnish. NOTE: Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors. The seeds of the apple fruit and their wild relations are poisonous

Carnations Steep in wine, candy, or use as cake decoration. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Dianthus are the miniature member of the carnation family with light clove-like or nutmeg scent. Petals add color to salads or aspics. Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that has been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Chrysanthemums Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They sould be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the Crown Daisy, also known as Chop Suey Greens or Shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.

Day Lilies – Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad. In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus. NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day Lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation

Fuchsia – Blooms have a slightly acidic flavor. Explosive colors and graceful shape make it ideal as garnish. The berries are also edible.

Hibiscus – Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones. Use slightly acidic petals sparingly in salads or as garnish.

Honeysuckle – Sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible. Berries are highly poisonous – Do not eat them!

Peony – In China the fallen petals are parboiled and sweetened as a tea-time delicacy.  Peony water was used for drinking in the middle ages. Add peony petals to your summer salad or try floating in punches and lemonades.

Roses – Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions. Flavor reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. Sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruit to mint to spice. All roses are edible, with the flavor being more pronounced in the darker varieties. In miniature varieties can garnish ice cream and desserts, or larger petals can be sprinkled on desserts or salads. Freeze them in ice cubes and float them in punches also. Petals used in syrups, jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads. NOTE: Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals

Scented GeraniumsThe flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety. For example, a lemon-scented geranium would have lemon-scented flowers. They come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels. Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes.

Tulip Petals Flavor varies from tulip to tulip, but generally the petals taste like sweet lettuce,  fresh baby peas, or a cucumber-like texture and flavor. NOTE: Some people have had strong allergic reactions to them. If touching them causes a rash, numbness etc. Don’t eat them! Don’t eat the bulbs ever.

And for those of you like me, who have always dreamed of making their own lavendar ice cream to share with the world, here’s a recipe!

Fresh Lavender Ice Cream
Adapted from happyvalleylavender.com

lavendaricecream

1 1/4 C. whole milk (1% worked well for me too)
1/2 C. fresh lavender florets, washed and dried
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 C. vanilla sugar (regular granulated sugar is fine too)
1/4 C. Splenda or other sugar substitute
pinch of salt
2 C. heavy cream

Gently heat milk, lavender and the vanilla bean until warm, but not boiling.  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the milk into a bowl and stire in the salt, sugar and Splenda while still warm.  Stir in the cream and chill the  mixture for at least 2 hours until cold.

Churn chilled mixture in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions (usually about 20-30 minutes).  Just before the ice cream finishes churning, toss in a few fresh lavender buds.

(makes about 1 quart)

Edible flower information found here.

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