The Art of Edible Flowers

The new trend in organic cooking is to use edible flowers to bring a delicate and creative touch to your dishes and to enhance the flavours. This is not a new idea but dates back to Roman times and became very popular in the Victoria era but knowing which flowers you should or should not use can be a complicated business.

So if you are not sure where to start or what to use – we have done a little research for you but before you begin our first tip is to use sparingly and keep it simple. Edible flowers can have a strong flavor so mixing to many can over power the taste of your dish.

Remember, not every flower is edible, so don’t use anything you are unsure of and never pick flowers that may have been contaminated by pesticides or traffic fumes.

Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating.  Separate the flower petals from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum.

Edible ‘Garden Flower’ Guide:

Alpine pinks (Dianthus):
Clove-like flavour ideal for adding to cakes as flavoured sugar, oils and vinegars

Bergamot (Monardia didyma):
Strong spicy scent, makes good tea and compliments bacon, poultry, rice and pasta

Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum):
Petals flavour and colour cream soups, fish chowder and egg dishes in the same way as calendula

Daisy (Bellis perennis):
Not a strong flavour but petals make an interesting garnish for cakes and salads

Day lily (Hemerocallis):
Add buds and flowers to stir fry, salads and soups. Crunchy with a peppery after taste but may have a laxative effect. Avoid buds damaged by gall midge

Hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis):
Refreshing citrus-flavoured tea enhanced by rosemary

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea):
Remove all traces of pollen and decorate cakes with crystallized petals

Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia):
Favoured sugar, honey or vinegar can be used to in cakes and biscuits while sprigs compliment roast pork, lamb and chicken

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus):
Brightly-coloured, peppery flowers are good in salads and pasta dishes. The whole flower, leaves, and buds can be used or just the petals for a milder flavour

Marigold (Calendula officinalis):
Intense colour and a peppery taste useful in soups, stews and puddings. Petals can be dried or pickled in vinegar or added to oil or butter

Primrose (Primula vulgaris):
Decorate cakes with crystallized or fresh primrose or cowslip flowers. They can be frozen in ice cubes

Rose (Rosa):
All roses are edible with the more fragrant roses being the best. Petals can be crystallized, used to flavour drinks, sugar and even icing for summer cakes

Scented geraniums (Pelagonium):
Flowers are milder than leaves and can be crystallized or frozen in ice cubes for summer cordials

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus):
Blanch whole buds and serve with garlic butter. Petals can be used in salads or stir fries

Sweet violet (Viola odorata):
Delicate flavour suitable for sweet or savoury dishes as well as tea. Use candy violets and pansies as a garnish on cakes and soufflés

Tiger lily (Lilium leucanthemum var. tigrinum):
Delicate fragrance and flavour enhances salads, omelettes and poultry, plus can be used to stuff fish

Edible ‘Herb Flower’ Guide

Herb flowers like basil, chives, lavender, mint, rosemary and thyme impart a more subtle flavour to food than the leaves. By adding sprigs of edible herb flowers like basil or marjoram to oils and butters the delicate flavours can be used over a longer period.

Most herb flowers are just as tasty as the foliage and very attractive when used in your salads.  Add some petals to any dish you were already going to flavor with the herb.

Borage (Borago offincinalis):
The cucumber flavour of these attractive blue flowers adds interest to cakes, salads and pate. Flowers are easily removed and can be frozen in ice cubes or crystallized

Basil (Ocimum basilicum):
Sweet, clover-like flavour compliments tomato dishes as well as oils, salad dressings and soups. Use aromatic leaves of both green and purple in Mediterranean dishes

Dill (Anethum graveolens):
Aniseed flavour, ideal addition to salads, vegetables and fish dishes. Add flowers to mayonnaise, white sauce and pickles

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum):
Mild onion flavour, good in salads, egg dishes and sauces for fish

Clover (Trifolium pratense):
Both red and white clover flowers can be used to garnish fruit and green salads or make wine from whole red flowers

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare):
All parts are edible and enhance salmon, pâtés and salads. Flowers preserved in oil or vinegar can be used in winter

Mint (Mentha sp):
Apple, pineapple and ginger mint, plus peppermint and spearmint flowers can all be used in oil, vinegar and butter for both sweet and savoury dishes

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis):
A sweet flavour similar to the leaves can be used fresh to garnish salads and tomato dishes or to flavour butter or oil

Edible ‘Vegetable Flower’ Guide

Garlic Blossoms (Allium sativum):
The flowers can be white or pink, and the stems are flat instead of round.  The flavor has a garlicky zing that brings out the flavor of your favorite food. Milder than the garlic bulb. Wonderful in salads.

Courgette (Cucurbita pepo) flowers:
Can be eaten hot in a tomato sauce or cold stuffed with cooked rice, cheese, nuts or meat. Use male flowers so as not to reduce yield

Garden pea (Pisum sativum):
Add flowers and young shoots to salad for a fresh pea taste

Salad rocket (Eruca vescaria):
Adds sharp flavour to salads or preserve in oil or butter to accompany meat

Radish Flowers (Raphanus sativus):
Depending on the variety, flowers may be pink, white or yellow, and will have a distinctive, spicy bite (has a radish flavor). Best used in salads. The Radish shoots with their bright red or white tender stalks are very tasty and are great sautd or in salads.

Edible ‘Fruit Blossom’ Guide:

Most fruit trees are usually sprayed just before and during the bloom.  If you are using you own flowers that have not sprayed, use only the petals, not the pistils or stamen.

Apple Blossoms (Malus species):
Apple Blossoms have a delicate floral flavor and aroma.  They are a nice accompaniment to fruit dishes and can easily be candied to use as a garnish.  NOTE: Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors.  The seeds of the apple fruit and their wild relations are poisonous.

Citrus Blossoms (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat):
Use highly scented waxy petals sparingly.  Distilled orange flower water is characteristic of Middle Eastern pastries and beverages.Citrus flavor and lemony.

Elderberry Blossoms (Sambucus nigra):
Used to make wine and cordials (see our Elderflower cordial recipe here), or place in a muslin bag to flavour tarts and jellies but removed before serving. Elderflowers can be dipped in batter and deep fried. The blossoms are a creamy color and have a sweet scent and sweet taste.  When harvesting elderberry flowers, do not wash them as that removes much of the fragrance and flavor.  Instead check them carefully for insects.  The fruit is used to make wine.  The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries.  NOTE: All other parts of this plant, except the berries, are mildly toxic!  They contain a bitter alkaloid and glycoside that may change into cyanide.  The cooked ripe berries of the edible elders are harmless.  Eating uncooked berries may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Cleaning Edible Flowers:

Shake each flower to dislodge insects hidden in the petal folds.

After having removed the stamen, wash the flowers under a fine jet of water or in a strainer placed in a large bowl of water.

Drain and allow to dry on absorbent paper.  The flowers will retain their odor and color providing they dry quickly and that they are not exposed to direct sunlight.

We would love to see your photos of dishes you create with edible flowers, please do share them with us.

Refs:

https://www.rhs.org.uk

https://whatscookingamerica.net

Dandelion Detox

This common flower is a favourite in western folk medicine and once we understand how beneficial it can be I don’t think we will ever look at it in the same light again. Creeping up through cracks in the pavement and popping up where we least want it, the unassuming Dandelion has enormous healing powers.

Dandelion’s (Taraxacum officinale) main uses in herbal medicine are:

• cleansing the liver

• purifying the purifier

• a diuretic

• improving digestion

• promoting lymphatic activity

The Chinese use Dandelion is for clearing heat from the body. Heat that is deep within the body and Chinese herbalists believe that it cleanses the sinuses. An indication that this is required may not be as obvious as a blocked nose but if white spots are visible on the tongue, or there is a film over the tongue, this can indicate that fluids in the body are clogged by mucus. This congestion can move into the bones casing aching.

These symptoms all link back to the liver, the main area of the body supported by Dandelion as the liver is responsible for detoxification and elimination from the body. The liver and kidney work together; the liver breaks down larger molecules so the kidney can eliminate them.

Due to its bitterness, Dandelion is a diuretic, which increases bile production, which in turn increases digestive activity, which has, clear remedial effects in liver disease by increasing the flow of bile through the liver and cleansing it. Thus increasing urine flow too, so it is important to drink plenty of water when taking Dandelion.

The beauty of using herbal medicine is that we benefit from all the healing properties the plant offers us. Most diuretics cause potassium loss in the body, but Dandelion has the added benefit of containing more potassium (three times as much as most other green plants) so it actually replenishes potassium rather than depletes it. The leaves are the best part of the plant for this action.

Due to its liver cleansing properties Dandelion, especially when combined with celery seed can have very beneficial effects for arthritis, gout or rheumatic conditions too.

If you have ever tried to dig up a Dandelion you will know that their roots run very deep and as they feed the plant they are bringing up calcium from the deeper soil and this could explain how it helps re-calcify the bones and teeth.

Emotions can be related to illness too, and anger, nervous tension and sluggish feelings are associated with the liver and these can manifest themselves when the liver is not functioning properly.

Parts to use:

Roots and Leaves

Harvesting:

Roots – collect from 2 year old plants or older. The older the better. Collect in early spring when they are filled the maximum amount of sap, although they taste sweeter in Autumn due to higher inulin content.

Leaves – pick young in the Spring/early Summer

Preparation:

Roots- wash and cut into long pieces (not too small as sap drys out). Dry by gently heat, or leave on a wire rack in the airing cupboard.

Leaves – Dry by hanging in a dark airy room or use fresh in salad, cooking or smoothie.

Properties:

Citric Acid, Vitamin B, Vitamin A, potassium, Inulin (sugar complex safe for diabetics), tannins, glycosides and hormone like substances.

Dosage:

I believe that with herbs it is better for our bodies and to aid absorption by taking less but more regularly throughout the day.

TEA: As a remedy at least 3 cups of tea are needed a day, or a couple of cups of tea plus a handful of leaves in a smoothie or salad. To make tea use 30g of dried or 60g of fresh root or leaves to 1 litre of boiling water. Always cover while cooling to avoid loss of essential oils.

TINCTURE: 5-15 drops 4-5 times a day. (see our How to Make a Tincture blog if you would like to make your own).

Be patient, as with all herbal treatments this can be a slow process but remember that you are actually curing and supporting the body using plants, not just masking the problem as with many conventional medicines.

Before taking any herbs medicinally you should always seek advise from your doctor first.

Refs:

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann

The Herbal Drugstore by Linda White / Steven Foster

Colour Healing

Color Healing, or Chromotherapy is an ancient art dating back to early Egyptian times and the Hindus have used colour and its’ healing benefits as part of their Ayurvedic medicine system since 1025AD  when Persian philosopher Avicenna completed his series of five books called The Canon of Medicine. The Canon of Medicine remained a medical authority for centuries. It set the standards for medicine in Medieval Europe and the Islamic world and was used as a standard medical textbook throughout the 18th century in Europe. It is still used today in Unani medicine, a form of traditional medicine practiced in India.

Avicenna (980-1037) saw colour as vitally important both in diagnosis and in treatment. He wrote that “colour is an observable symptom of disease” and he developed a chart that related colour to the temperature and physical condition of the body. His view was that red moved the blood, blue or white cooled it, and yellow reduced muscular pain and inflammation.

Chromotherapists use light in the form of colour to balance “energy” lacking from a person’s body, whether it be on physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental levels.

Each color has its own frequency vibration, and corresponds to a particular chakra (or energy center) in your body. Selecting and using the right color allows you to harness its frequency vibration, which in turn helps you to create your reality intentionally.

Everything in the universe is made up of light energy. Light energy moves at different frequencies, but the human eye is only capable of perceiving light in a frequency range of about 400nm-700nm (from red to violet). However, there are other animal species that are capable of perceiving even more frequencies and colors (for example, many birds and insects can see ultraviolet light, which is of a higher frequency than we can perceive).

Regardless of the range of color and frequency vibration that we are able to see, the ability to perceive different colors simply means that we have an innate ability to easily detect the vibration that we need and want. An easy way to help create your reality is through using colors that align with the vibrations of what you desire.

Colour theray can be as easy as painting your office wall yellow to promote communication, or wearing pink to bring calmness to your day.

We will looking into individual colours over the next few weeks on our Wild Medicines blog page.

Yellow – the colour of positive thinking

In our series looking at the colour vibrations in essential oils, today we are looking at the colour yellow.

Colour: Yellow

Chakra: Solar Plexis – energising to regain personal power and dispel fear seated in childhood memories.

Feeling: Positive, empowering and uplifting
Bring sunshine into your life and fill your heart with light and hope. See beauty all around us and allow vital energy into your system. Rekindle your love of life. Yellow aids communication and thoughts, it recharges the aura and protects you from psychic attack.

Mental: Yellow is the colour of the mind, linking to the logical left hand side of the brain.

Physical: Nervous System
Yellow strengthens the nervous system and muscles, including the heart to aid circulation. It also helps the digestive system and elimination process with an alkalising effect, helping liver and pancreatic function and stimulating insulin production.

Essential Oils which reflect the yellow ray:
Basil: cheerful, balance and wholeness
Bergamot: assertiveness, confidence, harmony, joyous
Lemon: humorous, rejuvenating, focus, positivity, great for meditating
Citronella: flexibility, positivity, well grounded, openness of mind, alertness,
Lemongrass: relax the nerves
Neroli: sharing, innovation, peaceful (at peace with the world), brine s lightness and happiness. Good in times of shock.

Ref: Colour Scents by Suzy Chiazzari

Purple – the colour of kindness and creativity

In our series looking at the colour vibrations in essential oils, today we are looking at purple.

Colour: Purple / Violet

Chakra: Crown chakraFeeling: Inner harmony and protection. Purifies, balances the mind. The colour of transformation and spirituality.

Purple vibrates at a higher frequency that most other colours and this aids in our transformation and melts away fear. This is the perfect colour to use in a room to create calm and purity of mind. Purple is antispetic and stimulates without heat, it protects against psychic attack and balances mind and body to be at one with each other.

Purple in the aura is a sign that spirituality is being sought and development in this area along with a need to be creative is very important for this person’s well-being.

Mental: Purple is the colour of self-knowing, self respect and tolerance. It promotes creativity and the need to help others… the colour of kindness. It can also sedate the mind therefore helping with anxiety.

Physical: Normalises glandular and hormonal activity, strengthens weak eyes and assists with building white blood cells. Violet light shone onto varicose veins can help to heal inflamed conditions.

Essential Oils which reflect the purple ray:

Juniper: blood purifying, toxin elimination and cleansing.

Lavender: soothes immune system, eases anxiety and negative thoughts, balances and brings patience.

Sandalwood: intuition and prevents recurring dreams.

Ref: Colour Scents by Suzy Chiazzari

Source: Purple – the colour of kindness and creativity

Get Happy Skin Again!

Thank you Emm at Vintage and Vampires for the review of our Facial Steamers and Rosehip and Neroli Face Oil:

“Wild Medicines Helping Me Get Happy Skin Again…”

When I was younger, my mum used to have a facial steamer and would pop in a few drops of essential oils to the hot water and let the vapours from the steam work wonders on her skin. I was too young to be interested in doing the same at the time but i always loved the scent that would waft around the room whilst she was doing this.
My skin has been feeling very irritated and congested for the last few months, i’ve noticed a lot more breakouts and felt my skin looked bumpy since the holiday definitely but I put this down the sun lotion I was using and thought it would clear up in time. Nothing has really changed so I thought about what I could do or change in my daily skincare routine to make my skin happy again – it just suddenly occurred to me that i should try steaming my face. I googled a few things and was looking for facial steaming bags when I came across Wild Medicines; a must have brand for any green beauty lover!
Wild Medicines was created by the lovely Louise Bowery who believes we can both sooth our skin and our minds by using and listening to nature, which is all around us. We all have a fragrance that when we smell it, it has the power to move us and alter our moods… I absolutely love the scent of jasmine for its uplifting properties and woody scents such as patchouli to calm my mind. Her powerful and potent products are paraben & cruelty free and never test on animals.

I have been using the Facial Steamers (£4 for 4 bags) designed for oily/teenage skin as I wanted to feel like my skin was being purified and decongested of any toxins and grime from every day life. They aim to do just this and leave you with healthy glowing skin afterwards which  can safely vouch for! I popped a bag in a bowl of hot water (you don’t need a fancy steaming facial kit to use these like my mum had) and put a small towel over my head and breathed in the vapours whilst they got to work on my skin for around 5 minutes. I’m not a massive fan of steam rooms and find it hard to breathe so i don’t tend to use for longer than 5 minutes and pop out for air but you can use for 5-10 minutes quite happily if you wanted to. My skin felt fresh as a daisy and totally rebalanced and i felt like i’d had a mini spa session minus the price tag! I think another positive of using steaming in your skincare routine every now and then is that your skin is primed for any skincare that you use afterwards – especially face masks or serums/oils as your pores are open and more receptive to lotions and potions. The bags come in a handily little tin to keep them fresh and can be easily stored in your vanity cupboard.

I have only just started using the Neroli Facial Oil (£16 for 30ml) but even though I have oily skin, i’m finding it a real pleasure to use. I’ve not had any breakouts and don’t find it heavy, plus the scent it divine. I try to steam once a week and choose to use a facial oil every other night or so. I’m not sure why, I just don’t feel the need to use it every night, but i love using oils like this one when my skin needs a serious hit of moisture.

If you want to try these products for yourself or find out more, visit Wild Medicines or why not tweet Louise on Twitter who will be happy to advise!

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