Floral ingredients have been used in cooking for centuries and can be a wonderful way to add colour and unusual flavouring into a dish. The Cooks & Partners chefs are always experimenting in the kitchen and regularly use edible flowers as garnishes and within dishes themselves. Imagine simply scattering edible pansies across fresh buffalo mozzarella, beef tomato and basil. Their addition adds vibrant flashes of yellows and purples which completely changes the look of this dish. In some cases it can add a whimsical naturalistic element to dishes.
Sourcing Edible Flowers
Sourcing your edible floral ingredients makes a huge difference to the quality and ultimate success of your dish. A good place to start could be your own back yard. You know its pesticide free and in terms of food miles practically zero. The best time to pick flowers is in the morning, when its cool. Check to make sure there are no insects hiding inside and be sure to remove the pistils and stamen. Many cooks choose to order edible flowers online, which is fine but check where they have been grown, whether they are pesticide free and how they will be transported to you.
The Cooks & Partners team always source locally grown floral ingredients. We are particularly fond of working with Red Tractor.
Here are four of the Cooks & Partners current favourite floral combinations.
Roses – all rose varieties are edible with the darker ones having a more pronounced flavour. Miniature versions make great garnishes for ice cream or salads. Why not try rose flavoured Turkish delight is amazing. Rose water usage can be traced back as far as 1200 BC. Its perfect partners are nuts, honey and dried fruits. Rose and buttermilk panna cotta is another great combo.
Hibiscus – this has a cranberry citrus flavour. Give strawberry and hibiscus sorbet a go for the perfect refreshing summer desert.
Lavender – part of the thyme and rosemary family, Lavender tastes woody, with a minty undertone. Try lavender sorbet as an accompaniment to chocolate pudding. This combo may surprise you. Lavender can also be used as an edible element to a cocktail. It enhances both the smell and flavour. Here are 5 to try.
Courgette Flowers – delicate and sweet, stuffing courgette flowers can look stunning on a plate. Fill with ricotta, sultanas and pine nuts. Or try stuffing with a cod pate made by poaching dried cod in milk and mashing with oil for a Mediterranean twist.
Image credit: The Great British Chefs
Its important to remember to always proceed with caution when using floral ingredients.
Quite a few flowers are poisonous and can make you very sick. Additionally, it’s vital that you wash floral additions and ensure they are free from pesticides.
Remember to never pick flowers from the roadside and only ever eat a flower if you are 100% sure of what it is and know it is safe to eat.
The below flowers are not suitable for eating:
If you have allergies and want to try creating memorable dishes with florals, the best advice Cooks & Partners can give for home cooks is to try a little and see how the body reacts to it. You can build flavour intensity over time but its best to be cautious in the initial instance.
Floral ingredients gives you the opportunity to be creative so have fun in the kitchen and start inventing new flavour combinations. Don’t forget to share them with us on Twitter and Instagram.