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8 flowers to grow and eat this summer

PUBLISHED: 13:14 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:14 20 June 2018

Premium edible flowers   Picture: Athena Nichols

Premium edible flowers Picture: Athena Nichols

Athena Nichols

The expert growers at Nurtured in Norfolk reveal their favourites.

Edible lavendar  Picture: Athena NicholsEdible lavendar Picture: Athena Nichols

Floral flavourings aren’t for everyone. If we look to the world of confectionary there are usually two firm camps. Those who love things like Parma Violets and rose creams, and others who think they taste like granny’s soap.

But there’s so much more to flowers, say the team at Nurtured in Norfolk, who grow over 200 varieties for some of the country’s top chefs and restaurants.

Experts say we should put more colour on our plates, and what better way to do that than by looking to the garden? Roses are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Borage flowers are a good source of fatty acids. And nasturtiums are rammed with vitamin C.

Never eat flowers from a garden centre or any old patch of grass. If you plan on adding them to your diet it’s best to grow the plants yourself as they need to be unsprayed and grown naturally.

Edible dianthus flowers  Picture: Athena NicholsEdible dianthus flowers Picture: Athena Nichols

Of course, if you can’t be bothered, do as Michelin starred chefs do and order a luxury flower wheel from the growers at Nurtured in Norfolk. Here they reveal their favourite blooms to give your cooking a summary boost.

Violas

With a soft velvety texture and mild floral flavour violas are perfect for the chef looking for something a little bit different. With such a wide range of colours to choose from, violas are a lovely decorative addition to salads, desserts and savoury dishes. They can also be added to a variety of ingredients to be flavoured with the essence of viola flowers to give an authentic fresh, delicate and sweet flavour.

Dianthus

Dianthus come in bright red, pink and white with a pleasant spicy, floral taste. The flowers add aesthetic elegance to cakes and bakes. They’ll also make a colourful garnish to soups, salads and a creative punch bowl. The petals can add zest to ice cream, sorbets, fruit salad, desserts, seafood and an array of sauces.

Tiny tagetes

These are small, yellow, orange and five petalled flowers with a citrus taste that makes them ideal for adding to salads sandwiches, seafood dishes or hot desserts. Why not try these edible flowers to make teas or use to garnish a variety of cakes?

Pansies

Pansies are delicate with a mild minty flavour. Use whole or individual petals to add colour when plating up. Pansies are guaranteed to brighten up any savoury dish or dessert with their mild, fresh wintergreen flavour. They can also be crystalized, dried or used to decorate a range of desserts.

Borage

Mix borage flowers into vegetables and fruit salads, or use to garnish soups or to decorate desserts. An excellent choice for freezing in ice cubes and floating on iced tea. Borage petals have an exquisite fresh cucumber taste and the stamens can add a hint of sweetness to dishes, pairing perfectly well with an afternoon tipple.

Lavender

There are many ways to use lavender flowers, both in sweet or savoury dishes. Make a delicious lavender sugar and add to biscuits, sorbets jams or jellies. Add flowers to vegetable stock and create a tasty sauce for duck, chicken or lamb.

Nasturtiums

The fresh leaves and flower have a peppery flavour similar to watercress, ensuring a zippy taste and adding a kick to a variety of dishes. Try using the petals to garnish your creative plating.

Cucumber flowers

These have a delicate cucumber-like flavour, with brightly coloured petals that have a tender texture. Their delicate taste makes them a great choice for salads or cold appetisers. Try pairing them with flavours like dill, gin, garlic, salmon and mint.

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