Appreciating the Beauty of Edible Flowers
Flowers can serve more than a decorative purpose. Find out how they can be part of your delicious meals and beverages.
When we think of flowers, what would come to mind would probably be those colorful decorations or the aromatic gifts we give to our loved ones on special occasions. Flowers show us the beauty of nature, but they can also serve more than a decorative purpose.
In many cultures and in different styles of cuisines, edible flowers have been part of the menu. They offer not just a burst of color on the dish, but they also add to the flavor and nutrition to the meal.
Keep in mind though, that not all flowers are safe to be eaten. Just because they are natural, it does not mean they do not pose any risks. Some might have inherent hazardous compounds (repellents or substances produced by the plant), while some may carry bacteria and chemicals from agricultural production.
In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recommended several edible flowers in the 2003 compilation “Food from the Wilderness”. Among those on the list are Aunasin, Himbabao, Jadevine, Kakawate, Langkuas, and Wild Sunflower.
Here are some edible flowers and their benefits:
Rose petals can enhance a dish and are widely used in cakes and desserts. In Middle Eastern cuisine, these are distilled to produce rose water, which gives a more concentrated flavor. Aside from this rose-infused beverage, they can also be made into jams and jellies. When chopped, rose petals can be added to butter or sugar give a unique zing to these ingredients. Research suggests that certain compounds in roses can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
Blue Butterfly Pea
Also known as pukinggang-baging (Clitoria ternatea), this edible flower is also recommended by the DENR. It is found throughout our country in thickets and settled areas. The flowers can be used to tinge boiled rice to the color of cerulean. They can also be brewed in your tea or added to lemonade. Like rose petals, they also give a touch of color to desserts. It is said that this edible flower is rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins that support our well-being.
Chamomile may be a popular tea choice, but for centuries now, it has been used in cooking and traditional medicine. The blossoms are used to make syrups or other infusions that can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or desserts. In a study of elderly people, researchers have shown that chamomile can improve sleep quality. Medical News Today also stated that chamomile tea can reduce the long-term risk of diabetes complications, and slow down or prevent osteoporosis.
Lavender is best known for its fragrance, which has been associated with the flower’s calming effects. Like its smell, lavender also offers a distinct flavor. It goes well with both savory and sweet ingredients, so you can add this along with citrus, sage, rosemary, thyme, berries, and chocolate. Given the nickname “herb of love”, lavender can be used in baked goods, herbal teas, dry spice rubs, and herb mixtures. Eating lavender offers you vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
There are so many other edible flowers with nutritional benefits (hibiscus, dandelion, honeysuckle, squash blossom). Most of these contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for our health. If you are just starting out adding flowers to your food, make sure these are edible and safe.