If you’ve been visiting the grocery store less often lately, you may have found yourself getting a little bored of the same old pantry staples. While it’s certainly a blessing to have food on the table, people crave novelty—something that, as of late, is a little harder to come by. Fortunately, there’s an easy, and perhaps unexpected, way to add a little something special to your meals, and it might already be growing in your garden. These edible flowers can add unexpected flavors and appealing color to all of your favorite recipes.
Hemerocallis, also known as Daylily, is absolutely stunning in the garden. As it turns out, these edible flowers also make a pleasant surprise on your dinner plate! With that said, if you plan to try them for yourself, it’s important to look for Daylily with the botanical name Hemerocallis and not any other kind of lily.
The short-lived blossoms of Hemerocallis, however, are edible and make dramatic, vivid garnishes for desserts and cocktails. However, the best parts are the unopened flower buds and the tubers. The tender buds have a great flavor, a little like a green bean mixed with a squash flower, that comes to life when sauteed in butter.
Meanwhile, the tubers have a very, very lovely potato-like flavor with a hint of sweetness. You can prepare them much like you would a fingerling potato. Make sure you’re sitting down when you take a bite—the taste will blow you away!
A small percentage of people may have an allergy to eating Hemerocallis, so start small just in case!
Many people love to use dried lavender as a natural home fragrance, but it’s also very popular with fancy bakeries as a flavoring ingredient. The flowers can be added to white sugar or steeped in simple syrup to create sweet, fragrant infusions that smell and taste phenomenal in cookies, cakes, and ice creams.
I’ve also seen some especially creative folks add candied lavender flowers to shortbreads and sugar cookies as an elegant, edible decoration. Imagine the reaction you might get sending these to a friend as part of a thoughtful care package!
Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm, is a pollinator magnet and an important food source for hummingbirds. However, it also has healthful and beneficial qualities when consumed by people. The nectar-rich flowers contain properties that are said to soothe indigestion and bloating, and may even aid the immune system. We could all use some of that these days!
The most common way to eat Monarda is by tossing the flowers into a mesclun or spring mix salad. The delicate blooms match the texture of the tender greens, and the color they impart on the plate is truly spectacular. However, if you tend to crave a sugar buzz here and there, you may want to try your hand at making Monarda jelly, or a delightful Monarda honey infusion. Or try slicing peaches and add some sugar to make a syrup, then add in Monarda flowers. Let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. The fragrance, flavor, and color contrast is wonderful!
One of the cornerstones of Spanish cooking is saffron—anyone who appreciates a great paella will tell you there’s simply no substitute for the real thing. Yet, saffron is notorious for being the most expensive spice in the world, mainly because the process of harvesting the stigmas is so delicate and labor-intensive.
Rather than buying saffron at the store, you can grow your own Saffron Crocus and harvest a small crop for yourself. You may only get one good harvest for the year, around early to mid-fall, but a family-sized seafood paella seasoned with fresh saffron might just be the perfect way to cap off the summer.
While we don’t always think of flowers when we’re planning our meals for the week or building our grocery lists, having a few edible blooms in the garden opens so many delightful new options. During this time, when the days seem to blur together, it’s a wonderful thing to surprise and delight your family at the table!
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