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There are more edible flowers than you think

In the supermarket, you might find packaged salad mixtures that include nasturtium flowers. Or the barkeeper might drop ice cubes with frozen violets or borage flowers into your drink. And your neighbour sprinkles rose petals on the apple tart. If you’d like to do the same, read on because a lot of wild and garden flowers are both decorative and edible. The German consumer organization, Stiftung Warentest, has drawn up a guide to using flowers to decorate and enhance food.

Cooking with flowers

Daisies are among the most accessible edible flowers, they taste slightly nutty in a salad or on bread. Clover flowers can be used the same way, but they have a sweetish, pealike flavour. Dandelion flowers taste slightly bitter, calendulas not only taste aromatic and slightly resiny, they also colour soups and sauces golden yellow. Nasturtium flowers taste peppery, while poppy petals can be cooked gently in light olive oil. Or, like violet or rose petals, they can be scattered fresh over cakes and desserts.

Beware poison and contamination

Some flowers, like the plants they grow on are poisonous. These include columbine, peonies, autumn crocuses, laburnum, lily of the valley, oleander, deadly nightshade, ragweed and aconite or monkshood.

The best place to harvest flowers is in your own garden, because you know exactly how they’ve grown. If you haven’t a garden, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Picking flowers is not allowed in nature reserves or public parks and, of course, you should avoid roadsides where flowers may be contaminated by heavy traffic and hedgerows beside fields which have been sprayed with pesticides. Diseases resulting from eating flowers contaminated by animal faeces or urine are extremely rare, but can be life-threatening for example, fox tapeworm eggs could be present in parts of Europe where it is a problem.

If you’re buying flowers to eat, only buy those labelled as edible. Flowers from a flower shop definitely don’t fall into this category. Wash flowers gently, but thoroughly and use them as soon as possible after picking.

Source: Stiftung Warentest