Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Edible Spring Wildflowers

Monday, May 5, 2014

Flowers are by far the prettiest type of wild edible around. They are also packed full of good nutrients. Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, I leaned early on which flowers I could munch on for a lovely little snack while playing outside. Now that it's springtime again, I've been admiring the new blossoms everywhere and thinking of fun ways to incorporate them into our mealtime as a family. Here are a few of my favorites wildflower edibles, along with some ideas of how to put them to good use in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Violets


My birthday is in early May and growing up my cake was almost always decorated with the deep purple violets that grew wild around our house. The taste of the violet flower is both fresh and delicate with a nice crunch that adds texture to any dish. Nowadays, I like to use them mostly as a garnish on salads, although they are also pretty floating in punch or cocktails. I'd also like to try my hand at making this simple violet jelly. Yum!

Dandelion 


The dandelion flower is full of good nutrients such as calcium, iron, and Vitamins A and C, not to mention rich in protein. You may think of it as just a common weed but it was once considered an herb used for helping digestion and easing rheumatism and liver problems. As far as eating goes, you can cook the leaves and use them as greens, similar to the way I used them in this  recipe last year. They taste great that way as long as you pick them when they are young in order to avoid bitterness. When it comes to cooking the dandelion flower itself, all you have to do is batter fry them to know what all the fuss is about. They're so good! I'm also considering taking it a step further this year and making a batch of Dandelion wine. Cheers!

Red Clover


Forget about finding a four leaf clover. This sweet little wildflower contains all the luck you'll need. That's because red clover blossoms have long been used in Chinese Medicine as a tonic to fight colds and to purify the blood. The pom-pom like blossoms have a subtly sweet taste that works well in salads or for making hot teas. 

Apple Blossoms and Cherry Blossoms 


Apple blossoms and Cherry blossoms are not only beautiful to look at, they also make a lovely addition to a meal. Try turning these gorgeous blooms into candied crystallized blossoms to serve with ice-cream for a special spring treat!

Johnny Jump Ups


Johnny-Jump-Ups are such sweet flowers. They remind me of little faces. The bloom has a mild wintergreen flavor that can be incorporated into salads, desserts, soups, or used as a garnish for deserts and cheese. They remind me of little faces

Redbud flowers


Redbud flowers have a slightly sour taste and are high in Vitamin C. You can use them in salads or  spring rolls. You can even make pickled Redbuds as a great substitute for capers. 

Wood Sorrel Blossoms


This is probably my favorite wild flower to eat all by itself. I love to snack on it whenever I find a patch in the woods. The flowers are edible but so are the leaves with a lemony flavor that is all it's own. I'm thinking of trying out this wood sorrel pesto recipe next. 

Important Safety Rules to Follow When Eating Wildflowers

Design Sponge came up with some great guidelines to follow when eating wildflowers

1. Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible.
2. Just because it is served with food does not mean a flower is edible (see Rule 1).
3. Eat only flowers that have been grown organically.
4. Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers (see Rule 3).
5. If you have hay fever, asthma or allergies, do not eat flowers.
6. Do not eat flowers picked from the side of the road. They are contaminated from car emissions (see Rule 3).
7. Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Eat only the petals.
8. Not all flowers are edible. Some are poisonous.
9. There are many varieties of any one flower. Flowers taste different when grown in different locations.
10. Introduce flowers to your diet the way you would new foods to a baby — one at a time in small quantities.



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