Since Jamie Oliver came along on telly discussing his latest recipes for zucchini flowers and lavender, we’ve been getting a few calls to see if we can suggest any recipes. Most of our flowers are indeed inedible, however, there are a few which parts of can be eaten, which include: lavender, alliums, apple blossoms, banana blossoms, carnations, chrysanthemums, dandelions, fuchsia, gladiolus, wild hyacinths, jasmine, sunflowers, violets and more.
Chrysanthemums have long been used by the Chinese for making beautiful tea, which is often said to cure sore throats, as well as help acne, treat eye diseases that are related to stress and aid recovery from influenza. Might help with all the swine flu going around! It is also used by Koreans for waking up and used by the West as a drink and a compress to treat circulatory diseases such as varicose veins and atherosclerosis. It’s available in all Chinese supermarkets and also easy to make at home – place some dried (or fresh) chrysanthemum leaves into a teapot and pour in water between 90-95ÂºC. Add in rock sugar to taste. You can repeat this process several times with the same leaves and drink either hot or chilled. Jasmine tea can also be made in a similar process.
Lavender is a popular flower for cooking recipes. Lavender Creame Brulee, Grilled Pork Chops with Lavender Flowers, Lavender Sorbet and my personal favourite, peppered lavender roast beef. This beautiful recipe is best marinaded overnight and I personally like to add some dark soy sauce with the oil mixture. Gravy can be made with the excess fats with some extra lavender dropped in, some port and vegetable stock. The full recipe can be viewed from here.
If you’re picking these yourself from your garden, always make sure firstly you’re picking the correct flower and secondly that you avoid any poisonous parts of the plant or flower. If you have a known allergy to touching a particular flower, it is, not surprisingly, best to avoid eating these at all costs!