When it comes to cuisine, aesthetic appeal is half (or 1/4 of) the battle, just ask the Iron Chefs. And what's more aesthetically appealing than a delicate flower? Luckily, there are plenty of beautiful blossoms you can actually eat.
Gabriele Marewski of Paradise Farms is the local expert on edible flowers - her Homestead outpost grows a whopping 52 varieties. And according to her, it's easier than you might think to harvest some in your home garden. Details after the jump.
The easiest way to get started with edible flowers, according to Marewski, is to simply let some of your current edible garden plants go to flower. Tempted though you might be to cut them and eat them immediately, be patience is a virtue.
"What a lot of people don't think about as you normally grow your herbs, you can let your herbs go to flower. An easy thing to start with is herb flowers," Marewski says.
"The second thing that you can do is let your greens go to flower - your mustard, arugula, mezzula, just let them go. You always have some escapees of your greens, so let them escape and let them grow and then just harvest the flowers off of them."
In addition to herbs and greens, adding edible flowers to your landscaping is an easy way to have them available for that afternoon snack or addition to dinner.
"Borage is a nice edible flower. Nasturtium is a nice landscape flower and they have a nice peppery flavor. You can eat the leaves and the flowers," she adds.
Other varieties of edible flowers include clitorias (yes, it looks like the real thing), violas, calendula petals, rose buds and petals, garlic, cilantro, marigold, dill and wild petunia, among others. Some are seasonal, some year round.
"Put 'em on top of everything, everything, I mean they make everything beautiful so it's not just for salads," Marewski adds. "I put them on sandwiches, on top of stir fry. You can put basil flower sprinkled on top of your sliced tomatoes."
In addition to adding edible flowers to salads, a lot of mixologists are including them as part of their creative concoctions. That's one way to look like a pro in front of party guests. Even if your bartending skills are lackluster - make up for it with visuals.
Spring brunches at Paradise Farms also include an edible flower walking tour, perfect for some additional education on these pretty treats.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.
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