Regardless of whether you’re ushering in the New Year with getaways, festive gifts or celebration plans, holiday feasting is sure to be part of the experience. Everything from champagne brunches to lavish dinners are lined up for Singaporeans to engage in one of their favorite pastimes (hint: eating!).
Popular menu items are always a hit with everyone, however, in recent times, there’s also been another aesthetically-pleasing item that’s been making its way into drinks, appetizers, main courses, and even desserts. Any guesses what this secret ingredient is?! The ever-popular flower, of course!
With their sweet-smelling, floral scent and colorful, satin-soft petals, flowers are increasingly being incorporated into dishes by acclaimed chefs. Their culinary usage dates back to ancient Egypt, England, Italy, Spain and even the Renaissance period. Edible flowers are also prevalent in cuisines around the world such as China, Japan and Mexico.
Here are some colorful varieties of edible flowers which can be used for garnishing and cooking delicious meals:
The sweet petals of these flowers have a candy-sweet, perfumed aroma. They can be used recipes for desserts, pickles, meats and salads, and steeped in wine or cordials for adding flavor.
Their flavor is peppery, with slight hints of cauliflower. Often used in traditional medicine, these flowers are incorporated in herbal teas. Certain species are grown as leaf vegetables, which are later stir-fried and savored.
Did you know that the ever-popular rose is rich in vitamin C? Their fragrance is similar to apples, and their velvety petals can be floated in drinks, used in jams, or placed on desserts for a pretty touch.
These bright, yellow flowers are prized for their edible seeds and petals. Even cooking oil is extracted from them, and their buds can be steamed and eaten!
- Day Lilies
Their slightly-sweet, vegetable flavor enhances the flavor of soups, salads, and sweet and savory dishes. Certain species are sold as ‘Golden Needles’ in Asian markets.
The source of the well-loved vanilla pod, orchids have a unique flavor, which can be described as a mix of ‘cucumber and endive’. These brilliantly-colored flowers can also be used for stir-frying dishes and decorating desserts.
Emitting a slightly-green scent, these flowers can be used in salads, meat dishes, starters, and even stuffed or used as cups for ice-cream! These are known to taste best when they’re unopen or freshly bloomed.
Cooking with fresh flowers is definitely a pleasing affair, however, it’s also important to eat them safely. Here are some tips to follow:
- Ensure Flowers are Edible: Make sure to check a reference book or guide if you are unsure about consuming certain flowers.
- Check the Source: Grow flowers yourself, or buy them from a reputable source. Avoid flowers from the nursery as they might have been sprayed with pesticides. Don’t pick roadside blossoms either, as they may be polluted by exhaust from vehicles.
- Remove Pistils & Stamens: Also remember to eat only the petals after removing the white base, and check whether the buds are edible or not.
- Cross-check for Allergies: Introduce flowers gradually into cuisine, and also check for possible allergies to avoid complications.
Whether it’s enjoying their essence in the form of Bandung or Jasmine Tea or a fresh dessert or stir-fry, flowers are an everyday part of our lives.