Looking at the photo above you would think what we are looking at is delicious grass for ruminants, however, what we are also looking at is embellishment for a beautiful savoury dish, salads and desserts. You are looking at daisies. Daisies are edible and if you, like me, just popped the whole flower head into your mouth you would be disappointed, it is rather woolly. But the individual petals are actually delicious.
The thing about a flower is that it produces honey to attract bees for pollination. So every time you put a flower into your mouth you first get a little hint of honey and then the flavour of the bloom itself.
So for example we are at the moment waiting for the radishes to flower as they quaintly give you that hint of sweetness and then you get the flavour of the root is it growing from, the radish!
Chives do the same. The first time I had purple chive flowers on my plate was in Paris over 10 years ago and I was so surprised by the strong onion flavour such a tiny flower could impart to the dish. Ours are not in flower yet, but as you can see it’ll not be long. There is of course another balance which JR will have to strike and that is the balance between making sure I have chives all season and making sure that Ox will get the chive flowers!
When reading up on flowers, there were some that were really obvious in that the flowers of all the herbs are edible. It makes total sense that these will be very close to the flavour of the herb they are flowering on. Our thyme is in bloom as well, but the flowers are tiny. However, they have a pungent flavour of thyme. I think you would have to use tweezers to get them off the plant, but they are really lovely. You can just see the back side of a bee in the middle of the picture…….
Calendula is more familiar in culinary use. Many people drink calendula tea and some of us swear by calendula cream on cut or a graze. An old Homeopathic remedy. Our ancestors used dried calendula leaves in their cheese cake in the Medieval period. To them it lent a citrus flavour to the prized dessert that it was. We have an abundance of calendula, because JR plants them to keep greenfly or whitefly away. It’s pretty effective and I’m happy not to be spraying.
Doing the research for this blog and for our growing project for Ox. I discovered that strawberries, peas, runner beans and squash flowers are edible, but to me it seems crazy as I really want the fruit. It’s different with courgette flowers as they can be taken off the female fruit and you can pick the male flowers like tulips. They grow separately.
As JR and I made our way round the glass houses we arrived at the Sorrel, which set very strange looking flowers, really tiny and almost impossible identify as a flower, but the blossoming top of the plant sent clouds of pollen everywhere. Leaving a fine dust on the lemon flavoured leaves. I can’t wait to see what Ox might do with Sorrel pollen. I think we’ll cut the flowers and bring them in a plastic bag to ensure that not only the flower but also the pollen gets there.