Edible Flowers, Part 1

Photograph: Catherine G. Damewood, Purveyors of Fine Florals & Design Vanilla Cake:  Decorated with pansies

Photograph: Catherine G. Damewood, Purveyors of Fine Florals & Design

Vanilla Cake:  Decorated with pansies

As a small child I remember a special, cylindrical box in my mother's spice cabinet.  It was decorated in a fine wallpaper-like pattern with an observation window at the top.  This was a very special box.  In it contained the most magical cake topper a 4 year old could imagine.  Sugar coated, sparkling, candied violets.  Fairy food.

It was my sister Catherine's first birthday and our mother being who she is, threw the most enchanted 1st birthday a big sister could image.  Let's face it, a 1st birthday is always for the family around the guest of honor.  And when there is an older sibling involved it is always extremely special for them in particular.    

On that day, I felt very privileged to be able to help my mother put the finishing touches on that crisp, white cake.  The impression that was left with me is how special flowers can be in the most unexpected places.  

The use of flowers in food create a huge impact, not only with their added visual beauty and enticing aromas, in a salad for instance, but also with their variety of flavors ranging from spicy to sweet.  That being said it is crucial to know which ones are safe to eat. When selecting flowers for consumption it is important to make sure they are non-toxic and not poisonous.

From Martha Stewart Living May, 2013, Edible Flowers article on-line, I pulled the following important information regarding flower selection, as well as a list of common edible flowers. For safety, choose only unsprayed flowers from your garden, farmers market, or other reputable sources that grow flowers for human consumption.  Be sure that these products are not from florist shops, garden centers, nurseries or retailers that are providing these flowers for aesthetic purposes and may have been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.  When picking flowers in the wild it is very important you identify the species.  It is also important to avoid picking flowers along the roadside as these are contaminated by car exhaust fumes.  And with all flowers, it is important to wash them before eating.

Common Edible Flowers (Petals Only)

calendula
carnation
chrysanthemum
clover
cornflower
culinary herb flowers, such as basil, borage, chamomile, and chive
dandelion
day lily
dianthus
gardenia
geranium
gladiolus
hibiscus
hollyhock
honeysuckle (caveat: its berries are highly poisonous)
impatiens
lilac
marigold
nasturtium
orchid
pansy and viola
peony
primrose
rose
sunflower
tulip
violet

Spring is just around the corner, and Catherine's birthday is right at the start of this season. Inspired by all things blooming and that memory of her 1st birthday with the candied flowers, I decided to make her a wonderful, edible floral present for her gift this year.  Stay tuned this week to see what I have come up with!  And in the meantime enjoy these pictures of the birthday cake I threw together.  Just a few pansies thrown on a simple, white frosted cake can create so many oohs and aahs.

Photograph: Catherine G. Damewood, Purveyors of Fine Florals & Design Vanilla Cake:  Decorated with pansies

Photograph: Catherine G. Damewood, Purveyors of Fine Florals & Design

Vanilla Cake:  Decorated with pansies