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Edible Flowers: The Red Velvet Rose of Love edit

1_1_2 I discovered flowers were edible back in my early pre-chef adventures, when I had the perfect height to hide in my great grandmother's garden and eat her favorite miniature white roses without being found. Those were great days full of pure innocent adventure and joyful rewards from mother and father nature.

The diversity and mystery of our tropical rainforest always captured my attention. Learning the value of natural medicine through my life, the healing benefits of plants and flowers, have helped me develop a natural instinct to preserve the traditional knowledge that has been carried by our cultures over the ages.

In the kitchen, this beautiful flower has a very important roll. It might sound a little odd because of the rose's romantic connotations, but in fact, roses have been eaten since ancient times. Romans were used to sprinkle rose petals on food, the table, and all over the banquet hall.

Rose petals, fresh, dried and crystallized can be added as a garnish to a salad, made into an infusion for tea and other beverages, desserts, as well as prepared into candies, marmalade, sauces, rose sugar, and soups. Rose petals, rose water and rose syrup are still widely used in the cuisines of the Middle East. Greek baklava, for instance, is originally served with a drizzle of rose syrup.

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The best quality flowers for consumption are the young and fresh. Consumers have to be cautious to eat only flowers that were produced for that purpose and to avoid flowers from retail florists where they may have been treated with modern systemic pesticides and chemicals not intended for consumption; they have made the flowers highly toxic.

For some edible flowers, it is important to eat only the petals to avoid the bitter taste found in the rest of the flower. But, when it comes to roses, petals from all varieties are edible as well as the leaves which are used in some concoctions with curative properties that are prepared in Latin America.

The following excerpt has been extracted from "Rosita Arvigo's: Rainforest Remedies, One Hundred Healing Herbs of Belize":

"Red Rose (Rosa Roja, in Spanish): Traditional Uses: As a "cooling" plant for fevers and as a binding or astringent for infantile or childhood diarrhea, 1 red rose flower and 9 leaves are steeped in one cup of boiling water for 15 minutes; this is strained before drinking. A stronger infusion using 3 red roses and a handful of leaves steeped for 15 minutes in 1 cup of hot water is consumed for adult diarrhea and uterine hemorrhage. All infusions are allowed to cool before drinking. To treat red, inflamed eyes in people of all ages, including newborn babies, 1 flower is steeped in 1 cup of boiling water; when cool, this is strained through a cloth and 3 drops are placed in the affected eye 3 times a day until cured."

Anyone wanting to buy roses or other flowers to eat should purchase them directly from an organic farm or from a farmer or gardener who has raised the flowers to use as food.

1_6_1 Roses and other flowers generally taste similar to their fragrance, or in the case of herb flowers they taste similar to the leaf of the plant. Most herbs that we use in the kitchen produce edible flowers, such as garlic, chives, dill, mint, sage and thyme. So, in your quest for the perfect tasting rose, do not forget to put your nose to work and check out the bouquet of each one! Remember that its aroma and the texture, in association with their eye appeal which makes them a "very sensual food".

"Flowers are the plant's sex organs, and they evoke the sex-drenched, bud-breaking free-for-all of spring and summer." An explanation of the aphrodisiac power of flowers as only Diane Ackerman can say it. A Natural History of Love.

We have to thank the organic farming movement for the return of edible flowers to the American cuisine. The chemicals & pesticide-free roses used to cook by most American chefs come from organic gardens in California who send them by air to specialty food suppliers around the country. Chefs pay around $15- $ 20 for fifty fresh thumbnail-sized blossoms.

1_7

Now, the fabulous recipes:

Recipe #1: CRYSTALLIZED ROSE PETALS (for garnishing salads, soups and desserts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • handful of fresh, organic rose petals

Directions: Beat the egg white in water until foamy. Use a small pastry brush to paint each of the flower petals with the egg white mixture. Then, dip the petals into sugar. Allow petals to dry overnight on waxed paper.

Recipe #2: BOUTONS DE ROSE INFUSION

1_8 To prepare this infusion I use the "Fauchon's Boutons the Rose".  They are dried miniature red rose buds that come in a small 50g plastic jar directly from France. The 50g jar costs $17.50 here in Panama City. In a future post I will teach you how to dry your roses to assure the best taste and texture.

The procedure to prepare the infusion is very simple: just bring water to a boil and put a handful of dried rose buds in an infusion pot. Then, cover with the hot water and let it brew for 10 minutes, or more if wanted.

Recipe #3: ROSE-THYME VINEGAR

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh organic red rose petals (or pink, or a combination of both)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 l., distilled white salad vinegar

Directions: Place the rose petals and the thyme in a container with the vinegar and close hermetically for 1 month. Store in a dark place. Then, strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheese cloth and discard the rose petals. The thyme sprigs could be saved for future use as garnish.

If you bottle this beautiful and fragrant vinegar (with the help of a funnel), into decorative bottles, it would be the perfect holiday gift for your loved ones and foodie friends!

For best flavor: store the bottled rose vinegar for no more than 6 months in a dark, cool pantry.

Uses for this vinegar: in addition to using this vinegar to prepare your favorite vinaigrette, you can also use it to create a "rose homemade mayonnaise". Yes, I know..., it sounds deliciously beautiful smile Just the way we like it!

To prepare this "mayonesa con esencia de rosas" or, "rose mayonnaise", just use the "rose-thyme vinegar" when your favorite homemade mayonnaise calls for vinegar or lime juice.

Recipe #4: ROSE COCKTAIL

Ingredients:

  • the juice of 4 lemons
  • 1 l. water
  • 2 teaspoons-rose water- (store purchased or home made)
  • 3 tablespoons organic honey, or agave syrup
  • a pinch of salt

Directions: combine all of the ingredients and stir until the honey and salt are dissolved. Serve COLD, garnished with a lemon wedge.

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Spero News

  • by Chef Melissa
  • November 29, 2005
  • 4:18 pm

Comments

Picture of Don Ray Don Ray said on...
11.29.05 at 07:01 PM |

To think that all of these years I have been a Blooming Idiot and thought that the only practical use of flowers was the beginning of a very romantic evening.
——-

Picture of Paz Paz said on...
11.30.05 at 08:20 AM |

Oh, wow!  What an interesting post!  Thanks for the recipes!

Paz

Picture of Melissa Melissa said on...
11.30.05 at 11:10 AM |

I am glad you liked the article and recipes! I know people has been always intrigued about cooking with flowers,...that is why I keep writting about it smile Hugs to both of you!

Picture of An orange An orange said on...
11.30.05 at 07:07 PM |

Oh, I adore the idea of eating roses!  I would love to try making crystallized rose petals.  They are so pretty and delicate.

Picture of Michelle Michelle said on...
11.30.05 at 07:24 PM |

What a truly unique post!  I love all the information, recipes, and especially that quote by Diane Ackerman!  I printed it out and will save it for when roses come back around this summer.  Thank you!  BTW -  your cookies look wonderful!

Picture of Melissa Melissa said on...
12.01.05 at 02:05 PM |

Dear ORANGE: what a great surprise to have you here! I wonder if it’s possible to have a ORANGE-ROSE one of these days smile Hugs!

Michelle: I am glad you like roses! I specially love them because they are strong plants that last all year long…Lets not forget they are quite tasty too smile Will be posting my cookies recipe and photos soon!

Picture of Angel Angel said on...
12.03.05 at 08:13 AM |

That pic is gorgeous…..

Roses are very yum as well as beautiful—-I also love the peppery taste of
Nasturtiums.

Must go eat now!

Picture of Melissa Melissa said on...
12.03.05 at 03:34 PM |

Thank you Angel for your visit! I agree with you…, roses are delicious to eat smile Hugs and Happy Holidays from Panama!

Picture of grace grace said on...
12.30.05 at 03:49 AM |

Fantastic!  I never thought in my life they can be eaten. I’m feeling so idiot now.  I must try it when I’ll go home to Phil as we have plenty of organic roses in my place. 

Thanks for sharing these ideas.

Kisses!

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
12.30.05 at 08:07 AM |

You are welcome Grace!  It is never too late when it comes to to discover a new delicacy smile Hugs and Happy New Year!

Picture of Andrew Spark Andrew Spark said on...
03.14.06 at 03:55 AM |

Flowers immediately draw attention and come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and prices.

Picture of Lady Amalthea Lady Amalthea said on...
03.21.06 at 10:39 PM |

What an informative post! I’ve eaten herb flowers and nasturtiums, but never roses. I’d love to candy some—I just need to find some nice organic ones that I trust eating!

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
03.22.06 at 07:37 AM |

Thank you Lady Amalthea for your visit! You will love the candied roses, just make sure they are organic. If you have the time, just grow them yourself smile Please keep me posted about the project!

Picture of bailey bailey said on...
07.30.06 at 04:00 PM |

I also love using edible flowers. I subscribe to the concept that everything on the plate should be edible, and it’s fun to surprise people by saying that the garnish is edible too. I haven’t had much experience using flowers to enhance actual meals yet though, but I will try soon.

Also, there were so many things the Romans did that we still do today. But just be careful what you copy, because they also used to put lead in their water to make it sweet.

Picture of swetha swetha said on...
09.14.06 at 08:58 AM |

I agree with you ,But now I am started thinking of => roses are delicious to eat ......

Picture of Cristina Cristina said on...
01.09.07 at 05:50 PM |

OK MELISA…THIS ONE NEEDS A REAL ANSWER AT .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), couse where da hell can i find perfectlly clean roses to cook with , I might take some from the arrocha was em and just cristalize em´ , but i dont feel like having my guest eat this, what if someone gets killed by me ?
thanks for the answer!

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
01.09.07 at 07:20 PM |

Ma. Cristina…te acabo de escribir a tu mail con mis comentarios al respecto! Un abrazo,
M

Picture of Cathy Griffith .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
01.11.07 at 03:24 PM |

Where can you purchase edible flowers to cook with?

Picture of Lynn .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
04.07.09 at 09:03 AM |

I totally Agree with u,i really appreciate your posting,such a nice thinking.thanks for giving us such a nice information.

Picture of Dhamphy Dhamphy said on...
08.07.09 at 04:04 PM |

I love the idea of this edible flower… thanks for sharing the recipe.

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