Grow your own edible flowers.
Photo: Frugal Mama
Last night's dinner menu consisted of fried pumpkin flowers and daylilies, with a salad of kale and nasturtium flowers, and my kids gobbled it up. Edible flowers are colorful, unusual, and full of good-for-you nutrients. Pumpkin flowers, for example, are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, as well as a collection of B vitamins and folate.
Since you can't find edible flowers at the grocery store, these treats are perfect to grow at home. We grow ours in the front yard, where we have the most sun, and the flowers beautify our landscape (when they're not filling our tummies).
We're just at the beginning of our flower-eating adventure, but a little research unearthed a long list of flowers that are safe to eat. Not surprisingly the flowers of most herbs -- like basil, mint, and rosemary -- can be eaten, but I didn't realize that we could also eat tulips (which are supposedly good stuffed) and violets (which they say taste sweet and perfumey). Then of course there are the traditionally-ingested flowers that I had almost forgotten -- roses, honeysuckle, and dandelion -- all edible and quite easy-to-find.
It's not too late to plant some seeds. Pumpkin vines grow like mad, and even though only three of our seeds escaped our resourceful squirrels, they have grown into giant plants that are providing us with about ten huge flowers a day.
Friends and neighbors told us that daylilies were edible too, and sure enough, research confirmed that you can eat the shoots, stems, and flowers of this common plant. We didn't even have to wait -- we just foraged in our side yard, where wild lilies were already flourishing.
When planting your own flowers, make sure you follow the seed packet or seedling instructions, use rich planting mix for soil, and choose a spot that gets sun most of the day. Watering can be a fun family activity, as is of course, the constant surveillance of the seedlings and their blossoming.How to Eat Flowers
The most simple way to eat flowers is to toss them into a salad for color and extra vitamins. For a filling and delectable appetizer or main dish, we love dip them in a quick beer batter and fry them up. Stuffing flowers with cheese like mozzarella or ricotta is popular, but we think they are delicious just battered up without this extra step.
Folding flowers into kid-friendly dishes like risotto or buttered pasta with parmesan cheese is also easy and has gone over well in our household. Candying flowers is something we'll learn when our borage flowers bloom, because according to the seed packet, borage's "sparkling blue flowers" which look like "stars falling from the sky" are beautiful "candied atop cakes and pastries."
Growing edible flowers is spicing up our dinners and is fueling new recipes -- and much interest from my kids in the preparation and tasting of this nearly-free food. Kids who grow their own veggies are twice as likely to eat them. We can double that, I bet, with flowers.
This post was written by Amy Suardi, Frugal Mama
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