In the Garden:
Floral flavors and scents spice up this egg salad lunch.
I was folding mayo and a smidgen of olive tapenade into my egg salad. Green -- I craved something green. The second growth of spring mix in the window box came to mind. After clipping fresh lettuce and arugula leaves, I noticed the nearby purple/blue and yellow-faced pansies 'Penny Marlies'. Wouldn't they be pretty around the egg salad?
What other edible flowers are blooming within picking distance? Pink chive flowers in pot in the backyard! They'd add onion flavor without the chopping.
Pansies. Is every flower part edible or just the petals? I leaf through Cathy Wilkinson Barash's Edible Flowers From Garden to Palate. Barash writes that pansies are related to the also edible violet and Johnny-Jump-up. The petals have a mild flavor. The whole flower has a wintergreen overtone.
The small 'Penny Marlie' flower I sample is crisp and tender. Yes, there IS a flush of wintergreen berry. I clip off more, nibbling some and placing some around the salad. The frilly 'Lemonberry Frizzle' pansies are a funny, bigger mouthful.
An allium, the chive is a perennial herb best grown in sun and very well-drained soil. My first chives thrived in a cement block on a macadam driveway. Chive leaves are one of the first greens to pop in spring. Fluffy balls of lavender-pink flowers bloom on tall, non-palatable stems. Each flower is really a cluster of florets. Chive flowers are most flavorful when newly opened. Mine are on the wane, a bit dry. No matter. I pull off the florets to sprinkle over the egg salad. Yum!
Other Edible Flowers
Barash includes ten rules about edible flowers. Know your flowers because some flowers are poisonous. Eat only flowers grown organically (not fresh from the nursery, florist, garden center, or roadside.) In most cases, eat only the petals. Remove pistils, stamens, sepals. If you have allergies, asthma, or hay fever do not eat flowers.
Dianthus (a.k.a. wild clove pink, carnation, pink, gillyflower) is another spring bloomer. Its petals taste like sweet clove. Remove the green calyx (sepal) and the bitter white base of the petals.
In June and July, elderberry (Sambucus) shrubs burst with white flower clouds. These sweet-scented, sweet-tasting clusters called elderblow can infuse teas and flavor syrup, cordials, soda, wine. They add flavor to muffins, fritters and custard. Caution: green parts and roots of the elderberry are poisonous. Carefully remove flowers from stems.
Soon the native perennial bee balm (Monarda) will be tantalizing bees and butterflies. Also known as bergamot and Oswego tea, bee balm has flowers that can taste citrusy, sweet, hot and/or minty. They flavor fish, ice cream, tea and baked goodies such as cake, tarts, scones.
Dwarf signet marigolds (Tagetes signata) have petals the flavor of spicy tarragon, writes Barash. These are not the popular African and French bedding marigolds. Signets grow in compact mounds of fine, lemon-scented foliage. The small single flowers are lemon ('Lemon Gem') or orange ('Tangerine Gem'). Eat only the petals. Remove the bitter white ends. I like to use signet petals to jazz up pasta and chicken dishes. Bon Appetit!
Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!