The use of flowers is increasingly seen in a multitude of dishes, some very elaborate and sophisticated and others simpler such as salads. However, although it is a trend that has become popular in recent years, the use of flowers in gastronomy is quite old. However, before starting to use this type of ingredient, it is important that you know certain important aspects, such as differentiating the types of edible flowers of those that are not, as well as some that can become toxic.
Edible flowers, as their name suggests, are flowers that can be consumed as food, in the same way that we do it with fruits or vegetables. However, one of the aspects that must be taken into account when consuming this food is that, as with many plants, not all of them are edible. There is a wide variety of flowers that are edible. Despite this, there is also another quite wide variety of flowers that contain substances toxic to health. It must be borne in mind that the objective of the flowers is the reproduction of the plant, therefore, until they generate the seed that is usually accompanied by a fruit, the plant will tend to protect the process. In this way, we can find poisonous flowers that, once they have become fruit, are perfectly consumable in the form of food.
For all this, with regard to the consumption of flowers as food, the first thing we have to take into account is to always eat flowers that let us know that they are suitable for consumption. Therefore, it is best to do it from flores that are expressly marketed For this purpose or, if we are sure of the type of plant, we can do it with those of which we have no doubts about their origin. In no case, should we consume flowers taken directly from the field or from environments that are not properly controlled, although at first glance we can identify them with edible flowers, since they can cause confusion and cause poisoning.
Currently, the most striking use of edible flowers is the introduction of this ingredient as one more part of any dish. Keep in mind that edible flowers have a generally strong flavor, in many cases bitter and spicy, something that has nothing to do with the sweet flavors that fruit is accustomed to. Therefore, they are an interesting part when it comes to contributing nuances to sophisticated dishes, whether it is salads such as risottos, pasta, some dishes made from tubers such as cassava, some legumes, creams, and also as an accompaniment in the case of dishes made from meat or fish.
However, the use of edible flowers is not limited only to being part of the dishes. In fact, they can also be used in the preparation of jams and preserves, jellies and dishes in syrup, as well as fermented beverages, with or without alcoholic graduation. In fact, they can also be presented as crystallized flowers, which is achieved by combining the flowers with the white of the egg emulsified with sugar. It is a laborious but very striking dish, which is why it is usually common in many avant-garde restaurants.
We have already commented that flowers are an ingredient that should be taken with caution due to the presence of types of toxic or poisonous flowers. However, within edible flowers, another aspect that must be taken into account before consuming them is their high level of pollen presence. Pollen is a substance that flowers secrete for their reproduction. This substance travels from the male sexual organs of the flower to the female ones, thus producing fertilization and the production of one or more seeds that are usually accompanied by a fruit. However, pollen is one of the substances that cause more allergies. Therefore, those people who suffer from an allergy to a certain type of pollen should dispense with the consumption of the flowers associated with that variety.
There is a fairly wide variety of types of flowers that can be included in dishes. One of the most recommended ways to do it, especially if you are a novice in this type of cuisine, is buy the product directly in a market or supermarket where ready-to-eat edible flowers are sold. If you do not have much idea of how to use them, a good option is to include them first in salads, which will allow us to know and identify the flavors, which will allow us to adapt them in the future to different and more elaborate dishes. Some most common edible flowers that can be found easily are the following:
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