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Tips for using flowers in the kitchen

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Once you have determined specific flowers are safe to eat — not poisonous and chemical-free — there are many ways they can be used.

Pick homegrown flowers in the morning or late afternoon when the water content is high.

Select flowers that are freshly opened, perky and free of any bug-eaten or diseased spots. Normally the petals are the only portion to be eaten.

Wash flowers thoroughly by bathing them gently in a bath of salt water. Perk them up by dropping into a bowl of ice water for 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Then carefully remove petals or other parts to be consumed.

Use flowers sparingly in your recipes, particularly if you are not accustomed to eating them. Too much can cause digestive problems.

The whitish part of the petal where it connects to the stem can often be bitter and can be trimmed off.

It's best to store flowers whole in a glass of water in the refrigerator until needed. Petals can be stored for a day in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but the optimum goal should be to use them within a few hours.

Freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes for a pretty addition to punches and other beverages.

Use in flavoured oils, vinaigrettes, jellies and marinades.

One of the most common uses for certain flowers is steeped to make teas, some of which are said to have medicinal properties.

Flower teas, with sugar added, can be reduced to create simple syrups that can be added in liquid form to recipes.

Sources: Various.

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