Flowers to see, to smell and to eat.
Botticelli in his most famous work, Primavera, represented hundreds of flowers and many of them were already used in the 13th century during meals, in our dishes. Not only pumpkin flowers, therefore, but many other flowers are edible and can be used in the kitchen to flavor as well as decorate dishes.
The use of flowers in the kitchen dates back thousands of years, there are many cultures that use these wonders of nature in their traditional recipes; a good way to give color, flavor and imagination to salads, pasta dishes, desserts, ice creams …
The edible part of the flowers are the petals, therefore it is necessary to carefully remove pistils and stems. The ideal would be to eat personally cultivated flowers or of which we know the origin.
From a nutritional point of view the flowers are rich in minerals, proteins and vitamins (A and C), in addition to being antioxidants and very low in fat, some are spicy, other herbaceous, others fragrant.
The best ones? Here they are:
Allium: leeks, chives, garlic are part of this family and every part of these plants is edible.
Honeysuckle: its flowers produce a nectar that can be used as a natural sweetener in the preparation of ice creams and sorbets, like a syrup.
Calendula: a spicy, sapid, peppery taste is a good condiment for pasta and risotto. The petals and leaves can enrich soups and stews, omelettes and salads.
Citrus: are the flowers of orange, lemon or grapefruit, sweet and very fragrant.
Dandelion: the buds can be pickled. The flower sauce is excellent with pasta.
Geraniums: with its petals we can made omelettes, icecream, sorbets, liqueurs, and they are excellent with fresh cheeses such as ricotta and crescenza.
Carnations: used as a dressing for risottos and to garnish cakes.
Jasmine: to flavor tea, it is also perfect for making biscuits and desserts.
Fennel: the yellow flowers are delicate and have a slight liquorice flavor
Lavender: sweet, spicy and fragrant, it adds an extra touch all dishes. In Provence they use it from appetizers to desserts.
Lilac: used in confectionery to enrich creams, yoghurts and ice creams.
Rose: rose petals are used to make jams, syrups, and cocktails, to enrich salads and to prepare risottos and pies.
Violet: ideal for ice creams, jellies and jams, but also for salads and drinks. Violet is rich in potassium and its consumption benefits the renal system.
In Florence even today, in some bakeries, there are candied violets, born in the 18th century but easy to find until a few years ago … a sweet memory of many people childwood!