Chat Leftovers: Flower power

July 3, 2013

It’s a wonder any of us at Food can fit into our clothes, after three months of doughnut tastings, and now this: an ice cream sandwich taste-off! Yes, we fanned out far and wide to find the best summer treat the area has to offer. It was grueling, but we did it for you, dear reader. Bonnie S. Benwick tells you all about it here, and Becky Krystal writes about the burgeoning gourmet ice cream sandwich trend here. Becky and Bonnie also teamed up to give you a fabulous graphic: everything you need to know about making your own ice cream, gelato, sherbet, frozen yogurt and sorbet. So get cranking.

Also in Food, Tim Carman tells you how a new owner gave venerable Washington coffee company M.E. Swing a new lease on life with modern equipment and an updated approach to selecting, roasting and selling specialty beans. And there’s the usual great lineup of regular features.

You free at noon today? Good. We’ll be expecting you at our Free Range chat. As always, bring your questions and comments — about any culinary topic that pops into your head — and we’ll do our best to answer them. Here’s a leftover question we didn’t have time to deal with during last week’s chat:

If I grow my own flowers and don’t use insecticide, should they be edible?

Absolutely! That’s assuming, of course, that the flower varieties you grow are edible in the first place. If you were planning to nibble on daffodils or azaleas, that would be another story.

Many types of flowers can be eaten with no ill effects, but not all taste good. Some of the most popular and easily found ones are nasturtiums, marigolds, bee balm, carnations, daylilies, chive blossoms, violets, violas, roses, squash blossoms and lavender. You can find a pretty comprehensive list of edible and inedible flowers here .

When picking flowers, you should gather them in the cool of the morning or evening. Rinse them gently, blot them dry and use them as soon as possible — preferably immediately. Keep in mind that with most edible flowers, only the petals usually eaten. There are exceptions, but in general the stamens, anthers, pistils and other parts are discarded because they tend to taste bitter.

A word about lavender. It’s a great flavor and a great fragrance, but not all varieties of lavender work well in food. The blog Goddess on a Mission has a nice explanation of which kinds of lavender make for good eats. Long story short: The one you want is Lavandula augustifolia. There are several cultivars; the one called Munstead is widely used.

Some edibles you might be growing have already stopped flowering for the year — my chive blossoms are gone — but others, such as nasturtiums, are just getting started. Here are some recipes from our Recipe Finder database that make use of blossoms and might give you some ideas of what to plant — quick, before the garden centers move on to fall plants, which they always seem to do in (grrrr) July.

Blue Skye Lavender-Scented Shortbread

‘Fancy’ Watermelon With Chevre and Anise Hyssop

Frittata Fiorita

Nasturtium, Green Bean and Potato Salad

Orange-Marigold Iced Tea

Pancetta, Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

Rose Petal Preserves

Squash Blossom, Poblano and Cheese Quesadillas

Summer Berries and Herbs in a Parmesan Cup With Fruit “Gastrique”

Summer Melon Slaw With Honey-Lavender Vinaigrette

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