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Gardening

Some Flowers' Power Is in Flavoring Food

July 10, 1999|From ASSOCIATED PRESS

There's no reason to limit your garden's bounty to fruits and vegetables. Some flowers also are tasty, but don't bite into them unless you know they are edible. Some are poisonous, such as delphinium, monkshood and lily of the valley, and no flower should be eaten if it has been sprayed with pesticide.

Uses for edible blossoms are myriad. Chamomile flowers make a pineapple-scented tea, those of dandelions and elderberries flavor wines, and lavender boiled with the apples adds a nice flavor to apple jelly.

Use other blossoms--either whole, petals or buds--as condiments or as sweets to end a meal. Unopened dandelion buds are good pickled in vinegar, garlic, fresh dill and brown sugar.

Flower petals, such as those of roses and violets, can be candied in sugar syrup and used to garnish cakes, or as after-dinner sweets. Candied mint flowers make a genuine after-dinner mint.

Some flowers can be pinched and eaten without further preparation. Pluck a day lily or violet flower and pop it into your mouth--no match for a fresh-picked tomato, but good nonetheless.

A few fresh nasturtiums add a peppery taste to a sandwich. Squash blossoms, marigolds or calendula flowers are good in omelets, and dandelion or day lily flowers add flavor to soups. Elderberry, lilac, day lily or squash blossoms added to the batter make tasty fritters.

Edible blooms can add eye-appeal to food just as they do to the garden. A fresh nasturtium floating in a bowl of cold soup makes a picture as it adds pungency. A few violets or rose petals beautify and flavor a salad.

Lest you think you've never eaten flowers before, so why start now, think again. Several flowers are staples in our diets, including broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes.

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