Visually appealing food stimulates digestion in the same way that smelling a delicious meal can make your mouth water. Eating is meant to be a multisensory experience and one of the ways to make food visually attractive is using edible flowers.
The scent, the colour and the nutritional value of flowers lift up the most basic of dishes to restaurant standard culinary presentation. Flowers can be used to garnish everything from salads and soups to desserts.
Generally, petals are used while the inner stamens and styles are discarded. Some of the flowers popular in culinary use are:
- Rose – Commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Rose water is used in many recipes and it gives a delicate, floral hint. The entire petal can be eaten. Rose petals can be intensely perfumed, so a little goes a long way. Rose petals contain 95% water and some Vitamin C. Apparently, cooking with rose petals and eating rose petals can make you feel good too.
- Marigold – Also known as calendula. Marigold add an incredible punch of color to salads or cold summer soups and lend a mild peppery to bitter flavor. The bright red, yellow and orange colors indicate a high flavonoid content, which provides antioxidant and immune system support, along with a hit of vitamin C.
- Dandelion – Has many nutritional benefits from root to leaf to petal. The green leaves are the more commonly eaten part of the plant but before opening, the young, small buds have a honey-like sweetness and, once they flower, the yellow petals add a beautiful addition to rice dishes, pasta or salads. They also provide an array of vitamins and minerals including beta-carotene.