Edible flowers, a nutritious food source, are mostly overlooked in cooking, although they are more commonly used in cake decorations and in fruit and flower arrangements or bouquets. For Jiao Mingyao, an expert cook, the flowers of a plant can be eaten if the roots, stems, leaves, and fruits of the plant are edible. When preparing edible flowers for cooking, he first poached them in salted water before making a pan, soup, or porridge with the flowers.
For Wang Yi of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, the influence of floral scents on the liver is to relieve physical tension.
Besides, flowers also contain glucosides which are believed to be beneficial to your body. For example, quercetin glucosides with anti-allergic properties are found in the flower buds of Japanese butterbur, a popular vegetable.
My floral dining experience begins with clusters of fragrant, tiny, greenish-white Tonkin jasmine flowers growing on a backyard grapevine. Whether cooked in a garlic stir-fry or made into a soup, fresh Tonkin flowers offer a unique culinary experience. Rich in carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, this edible flora is a feast for the eyes and skin.
On the other hand, I have yet to make a dish from the creamy white moringa flowers that grow plentifully on trees in the neighborhood. This delicious flora is a good source of calcium and potassium and makes a novelty salad or stir-fry.
The Banana Blossom cannot be cooked immediately; the white flowers must be freed from the hard pistils and scales; and the white pith of the maroon bracts. Only after stripping off all those unwanted bits are the banana heart and cleaned florets ready to be prepared.
The thinly sliced banana blossoms are then fried with garlic, shallots, coriander and salt. In addition to fibre, proteins and unsaturated fatty acids, this local food is extremely rich in vitamins.
Since the male papaya plants do not produce papaya fruit, their flower buds are picked and fried with garlic, shallots and salt as usual.
Nutritionally, white male papaya flower is rich in vitamins A, C, and E; For example, vitamins C and E protect your liver from the damaging effects of free radicals, while the vitamin C is a remedy for respiratory diseases.
All in all, the unpretentious papaya flower is a good source of fiber, folic acid and antioxidants, which prevent free radicals from damaging your tissues and are good for stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
Because our diet focuses on the fruit rather than the flower, we tend to neglect the papaya flora despite its high nutritional content.
Then there are the strongly scented durian flowers, a harbinger of abundance as it draws all pollinators to its nectar like flying foxes. The yellowish petals are crisp, slightly fragrant and sweet. Like the banana flower, durian flowers must first be stripped of all superfluous parts except for the stamens (excluding anthers) and petals, then lightly blanched for a salad.
It is noted that durian flowers, which are rich in vitamins C and B, minerals and fiber, only last for a day during which they are pollinated and then collected under the tree in the early morning.
Compared to the more exotic Asian flowers, squash flower is relatively easier to prepare; only the yellow petals and peeled stems are needed while the remaining flower parts such as the calyx, sepals and stamens are discarded. With a nice supply of vitamins, especially folic acid, a squash blossom stir-fry is a healthy culinary delight.
Luther Burbank says, “Flowers…are food for the sun and medicine for the soul.” So please eat the daisies – they will brighten your health.
Thanks to Kez Sze