7-27-11: Edible Flowers
Have you ever eaten a daylily right out of your garden?
“They kind of taste like buttered lettuce,” says Aaron Steil, Reiman Gardens’ Education Coordinator at the Iowa State University’s 14-acre Reiman Gardens located in Ames, 35 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa. “With roses, pansies, even lilacs, people grow them because they are pretty,” he says.
But what many people do not realize is that they have a dual purpose — they are edible. They can brighten up just about any meal and create new taste sensations. “They kind of make a meal look fancy,” says Steil, a horticulturist, who has satisfied his curiosity by partaking of edible flowers. “Most people are very curious but a little reluctant to try them.”
Most of us don’t stop to realize that some of the vegetable kingdom will actually flower, too, but we eat them in the bud stage before the flavors change and become more bitter as they open up. Broccoli and cauliflower in the cruciferous family are two such examples, according to Steil.
Reiman Gardens is part of Iowa State University and serves as a teaching facility for students in horticulture and landscape architecture. In the summer months, 15 students flesh out the staff when the gardens are in full bloom, and they shrink down to 5 in the cold winter months.
A focal attraction at Reiman Gardens is its 2,500-square-foot butterfly conservatory, which contains around 800 exotic and native butterflies representing 50 different types in flight. It includes the Blue Morpho, a Central American-native tropical butterfly with iridescent blue wings.
The butterflies are shipped in every week as chrysalis (for butterflies) or as cocoons (for moths). Then they hatch there and become part of the short–lived conservatory population. “The average life-span is two weeks,” says Steil.
Reiman Gardens, named after philanthropist and publisher Roy Reiman, was established in 1995. Although he sold his publishing empire some years ago, Reiman’s company originated magazines like Taste of Home, which continues to be a popular food magazine across the world, according to Steil.
While the edible flowers at Reiman Gardens are a feast for the eyes, give some thought to putting them on your dinner plate in the near future.
Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University:
2nd Hour: To Market, To Market With Edible Flowers
Guest: Butch Dougherty, Operations Manager, Iovine Brothers
The third biggest tourist attraction in Philadelphia, with 100,000 visitors a week, comes right after the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center is none other than the historic Reading Terminal Market, a large 114-year-old Farmers’ Market in the center city with 88 separate merchants. The Iovine Brothers, Vinnie and Jimmie, love to carry exotic as well as local speciality items in their 3,000-square-foot market.
When the Korean black garlic, which is fermented, surfaced about 2 ½ years ago, they jumped right on it. “We do have a niche market with caterers,” said Butch Dougherty, Iovine Brothers’ Operations Manager. “They are always looking for something unique and different. They’re artists trying to impress their clients with their cooking.”
Edible flowers fit right in the slot for the caterers. “It’s a more mainstream niche,” according to Dougherty. Up to ten Philly restaurants semi-regularly shop there for edible flowers, as well as a number of the caterers. “We carry four specific varieties (of flowers),” says Dougherty. “Orchids, rose petals, a mixed variety pack and squash blossoms.
“We don’t stock up because they don’t have a very long shelf life – 1 to 2 days. Orchids are the biggest sellers because they have the longest shelf life- 1 to 2 more days. It’s a growing demographic in the city. The flowers are pretty consistent. We carry them all year round.”
In the specialty item category, Dougherty says they have dragon fruit, Meyer lemons and cactus pear, one of the main ingredients in Dr. Hildy’s Monkey Juice recipe, which flushes out toxins and heals the respiratory system.
Dougherty has even seen a late-night infomercial extolling the virtues of the cactus pear as a remedy for nausea and lack of energy.
The Iovine’s best edible flower sellers are the orchids. “I’m not a cook,” says Dougherty. “I’m just selling them.” He noted, though, that salads are the hot ticket for the orchids. Bet he hasn’t tasted an incredible squash blossom stuffed with a creamy-smooth cheese mixture. He’d be singing to the choir!
Never fear. Dr. Hildy will be providing her favorite edible flower recipes.
Iovine Brothers Urban Produce:
From the Baci Mi ™ GARDENS COLLECTION of RECIPES
It is advised to grow your own flowers or check-out your local grocery store in the lettuce section area to see if they carry edible flowers. Edible flowers can consist of nasturtiums, marigolds, carnations, rose petals, day lilies, dandelions, cornflowers, banana blossoms, apple blossoms and many other types of edible flowers and leaves. Each will have its own unique taste, smell and flavor within the folds of your creative use of them. They can be served on top of cold soups, chilled dishes and even as their own open face sandwich. Below you will find several recipes that have been used by Dr. Hildegarde Staninger™ and her patients as she developed the Baci Mi™ Edible Flower Gels and Elixirs. These recipes are ideal for appetizers, but can be used as a cool and refreshing snack during those hot summer months.
Stuffed Nasturtiums and Leaves
Select your favorite soft cheese spread (Hogenfog cheese, Rondele® Garlic Herb, Herb goat cheese or cream cheese). Then select your favorite fig, peach or mango preserves.
Gently wash flowers and leaves (keep stems on for decoration and to eat).
Stuff your favorite soft cheese into the center of the nasturtium’s flower. Lie on a plate and make an arrangement with the flowers as you stuff more. You are now done.
Leaves are like water lily leaves so gently spread the soft cheese on their upper surface. Dab a spoonful of fig preserves on top (or any other you like). Arrange them around the flowers (stuffed) or on their own plate. You are now done.
This is a simple and quick recipe that all children love to make with their Mom’s or Dad’s in the kitchen.
Marigold Petal Salad
Pick out your marigolds of red, orange and yellow colors. Cut the petals off from the stem, but watch not to include the seeds (they are like needles in the throat if swallowed and may get caught in the throat like a fish bone). Set aside. Dice a large tomato and chop some basil leaves (approximately 6 large ones) in the same bowl. Sprinkle your favorite salt and pepper, or seasoning on top of the tomato. Then mix. Sprinkle the marigold petals on top. Cover with Blue Cheese and Bacon salad dressing. UMMMM GOOOD!
Three “Peas” in a Pod
Get six large Basil leaves turn them upside down like a boat. Stuff with your favorite soft cheese. Then add 3 peas, 3 blueberries, 3 raspberries or any other berry fruit that is small enough to fit in the basil leaves. Place on a plate and arrange so they appear to be swimming on the plate. Be creative use small violets or pansies to add color and flavor.
Raspberry & Mushroom Salad
In a large bowl put a handful or 2 of Spring Mix (greens) or shredded kale/carrot mixture. Top with your favorite feta cheese. Add sliced white mushrooms (or your favorite fresh mushroom) over the salad mix, and then add some fresh raspberries. Cover with Raspberry Vinegeritte. YUM YUMMY!
Blackberry Havarti Surprise
Slice some Dill Havarti Cheese into inch size pieces. Lie on a plate top with a little sprig of parsley inserted in the cheese and place a fresh blackberry on top. Eat and have fun!
Cucumber, Pansies and Violets Too
Peel a cucumber and then run a fork tip down its sides to give it a ribbed effect. Slice the cucumber. Arrange slices on a plate. Top with Greek yogurt, mint and goat cheese spreads (prepare by mixing these ingredients together and use as a spread add your favorite seasoning as needed). Use this spread on top of the cucumber slices and top with a fresh pansy, viola or little violet. They are so pretty and taste wonderful, too.
Old Time Favorite
Cut Celery into 2 to 3 inch lengths. Stuff with your favorite soft cheese, pimento cheese spread or peanut butter, but top with fresh clover, bachelor button or violet flowers. You can arrange violets to sit up like people in a celery boat.
Cherry Tomatoes and Rose Petals
Cut cherry tomatoes in half, top with your favorite soft cheese. Stick a small basil leaf, cilantro or parsley sprig up into the cheese. Top with 3 rose petals or you can cut the rose petals up then with the cheese topped cherry tomato dip into the rose petals (they will stick to the cheese) then add the sprigs or basil leaves. Serve on a plate. Tangy and soft Ooh La La!
Also see “Edible Flowers” from the Fitness and Freebies website:
Posted on July 23, 2011, in Edible Flowers, Uncategorized and tagged Aaron Steil, Butch Dougherty, Dr. Hildegarde Staninger, Dr. Hildy, Edible Flowers, Iovine Brothers, Reiman Gardens. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.