Four edible flowers

Flowers are more than just beautiful decorations; they are edible as well and add a unique taste to beverages and desserts.

Flowers are pretty and most of them smell nice. Did you know that flowers have many uses, besides adding beauty to our lives? Sure they make great arrangements, bouquets, centerpieces, garnishes and wedding cake decorations; however they also make wonderful teas and flavored water. Flowers add a distinct, delightful and interesting taste that pleases our palates when they are added to desserts and foods.

Hibiscus petals have a slightly acidic flavor while rose petals are sweet. Chrysanthemum petals have a bitter taste, and Day Lilies are one of the few edible lilies that taste like a leaf of lettuce and have a laxative effect on the body. Michigan State University Extension says that there is promising research is ongoing about flowers being a mineral resource for humans.

Here is a partial list of edible flowers:

Hibiscus: Packed with antioxidants and has been known to help soothe an upset stomach

Chrysanthemum: A great source of vitamin A

Rose: Rose petals provide vitamin C

Day Lily: Provide fiber and protein

If you would like to try a flower drink, I recommend Agua de Jamaica.

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea) Recipe (picture shown to right)

IngredientsAgua de Jamaica

2 quarts water

3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)

1 cup dried hibiscus flowers

1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)

A few thin slices ginger (optional)

Allspice berries (optional)

Lime juice (optional)

Orange or lime slices for garnish

Directions

1. Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, ginger slices, and/or a few allspice berries if you would like. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers.

2. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon and/or allspice berries.

(At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)

3. Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill. Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version.

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