Once upon a time, many years ago, my sister and I used to think we were flower fairies (we were strange children, I know). We spent many spring days flitting around the garden in flower crowns and fairy skirts (aka costumes that my Mother had made for us). We even had a garden "cookbook" (yes, it was a real book) from which we would whip up tasty treats, such as mud pie and grass salad (I mean, if that doesn't get your appetite going, I don't know what will!). The finishing touch to almost everyone of our "dishes" was a pretty flower (because let's be real, who would want to eat rock soup without a pretty flower on top?!).
While we were cooking up our flower fairy dishes, my Mom was making real flower dishes, everything from sugared violets to decorate a cake to salads with dandelion greens to stuffed squash blossoms. Luckily for you, the only flower cooking that I've taken into adulthood is the one my Mom taught me.
Flowers are a great way to accessorize your food in the spring (surprisingly, they do make things, besides rock soup, look good!). Here are some basics on edible flowers to get you going-
To keep your edible flowers nice and fresh, line a plastic container with a damp paper towel. Gently place the flowers in a single sheet on top of the paper towel, then fold the edges of the paper towel over the top, forming a tent so as not to crush the flowers. Keep the container refrigerated.The flowers should last 7-10 days stored this way. You can also spritz them with ice-cold water if they need a bit of reviving.
To sugar edible flowers you will need: fine sugar (you can pulse granulated sugar in a Cuisinart several times), an egg white, tweezers, and a clean paintbrush (optional, but helpful). Make sure your flowers are clean and dry. Beat the egg white with a fork until slightly frothy and some bubbles form (you can add a few drops of water if you need a thinner consistency). Then use the tweezers or your fingers (depending on the size of the flower) to gently dunk the flower into the egg white. Alternately, you can use the paintbrush to paint the egg white onto the flower. Next, gently press the flower into the sugar or sprinkle sugar on top of the flower (again, this depends on the size of the flower). Lay it out on wax paper and let dry for at least 24 hours. Store in an airtight container lined with a paper towel for up to a year.
There are many ways to use edible flowers, from topping soups (pea soup is my favorite), tossing in salads, and freezing into ice cubes for a springtime cocktail. Here are 3 other ways they can be used:
To top a cake or cupcake
Stirred into tea (hot or cold)
To top off a cheese appetizer (the one pictured is goat cheese)
For a complete list of edible flowers, click here.