Herbal tea and lemonade from flowers
To make lemonade from flowers (Achillea, Melilotus, Mentha, Melissa, Bourago, Calendula, etc.), use one to two handfuls of fresh-picked flowers for each litre of water, add sugar to taste and let sit overnight. The next day, strain and refrigerate immediately. You can also add lemon juice or orange slices, as well as honey. Homemade lemonade does not keep very long.
Herbal tea can be made from dried flowers. It is best to remove any leaves from the flowers to speed up the drying process, and not to dry them in the sun. Once dry, store the flowers in glass jars away from bright light.
A few ideas for salads
Instead of tomatoes, use sunny yellow or orange pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) petals. For more colour, keep the tomatoes and don’t forget fresh mint. In winter, use dried petals.
Nasturtiums for a colourful salad
Use Boston lettuce, a few leaves of watercress and coriander, different coloured sweet peppers and red, orange and yellow nasturtiums. Slice the peppers in two and cut one of the halves into fine strips to add to the lettuce, watercress and coriander; keep the other half to hold the nasturtium dressing.
The dressing is easy to make: blend ½ cup sour cream, ½ cup cottage cheese, a pinch of salt, 20 nasturtium flowers and 15 nasturtium leaves and enough water to reach the desired consistency. Pour the dressing into the pepper halves. Garnish with a flower.
Cucurbitaceae flowers for lunch or dinner
Starting in mid-August and as long as it stays warm, you can find them at some farmers’ markets. Here’s an easy, quick and delicious way to cook them:
Prepare two shallow dishes, one with all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt and the other with a beaten egg. Dip the flowers (zucchini, etc.) first in the egg then in the flower. Sauté them in butter flavoured with onion and parsley.
For a more filling dish, you can stuff the flowers with rice, chicken, carrots or cheese.
One word of caution: be careful not to eat the bitter part where the petals meet the stalk.
Ice cream with pansy syrup
Combine 2 cups pansy flowers, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1½ cups sugar and 3 cups water and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Strain and save the syrup to serve over ice cream. You can also add some gelatine to make a jelly dessert. Both recipes freeze very well.