From Flower to Fork: Florida Offers a Truly Edible Landscape
by COURTNEY LAWSON
Florida… land of the flowers. We are blessed in this state to have many beautiful flowers, but did you know that many of them are also edible? Because of our wonderful climate and biodiversity, we are able to grow a multitude of edible plants and flowers. So let’s talk about some of them.
Some may be familiar to you, and some you may never have heard of before. Some you may have only thought were weeds!
- Dandelions. Dandelions are the bane of many who want a clean and well-kept lawn, but almost all parts of this plant are edible, including the flowers! You can make wine out of the flowers, or you can batter them and fry them tempura style. The leaves can be fried and eaten like spinach, and the roots can be used as a tonic for liver problems. So next time you see this plant, think twice before pulling it up and throwing it out. Instead, throw it into your salad for some beautiful color!
- Beggar-tick, or Spanish Needles. This is a hidden gem in the edible world because the entire flower is edible. You can throw the flowers into a salad or bread. The leaves can be cooked like spinach. It’s also a fantastic butterfly plant.
- Butterfly Pea. This beautiful plant will grow very well here in Florida and has recently become very popular. You can use it to make a beautiful, rich, simple syrup for cocktails.
- Passionflower. This is another one that is not often thought of as being edible. Trouble sleeping? Make a moon milk with the flower and drift off quickly and happily.
- Roses. Roses also grow well here, and people don’t often think about them being edible! Roses are wonderful in cookies and icings. Use them on cakes as decorations and in pastries as a wonderful floral taste.
- Orchids. Florida’s climate is well-suited for orchids. Most people know that vanilla is the seed pod of an orchid, but did you know that those are not the only edible orchids? In Thailand, they make orchid tempura, and we can do the same here! That moth orchid that you picked up at the grocery store? You can eat that flour! Be sure to wash the blooms first! Some orchids even taste like watercress and can add a beautiful spicy bite to a dish.
- Nasturtiums. These colorful blooms can really spice things up when added to a soup or a rice dish! You can even add the buds to pasta and use them like capers!
- Spiderwort. Many people know spiderwort, the beautiful blue blooms that blanket our roadways in spring. Did you know these are edible? You can make fritters or frittatas with these!
Red clover? We can make flour with that! Purslane? Beautiful in a salad or bread. Elderberry? Makes wonderful lemonade. Go pick some flowers and start exploring. Here are some recipes to get you started.
Nasturtium Mini Quiche
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- Cheese of choice. (I like a mile cheese like swiss)
- Protein if desired (ham is always lovely in a quiche)
- Chopped nasturtium flowers
- 12 Nasturtium leaves
- Whole flowers to top if desired
Preheat oven to 375
Grease pan with oil or butter.
Add nasturtium leaves stem side up so you have a smooth outer cup at the end.
Whisk eggs and milk together until you have a smooth consistency, then add the rest of the ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of mixture to the mini quiche pan leaving enough room at the top rim for expansion from heat. Add one flower to each cup if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and firm. Let cool. Eat as desired.
Elderflower Lemonade With Butterfly Pea
- 6 Elderflower heads
- 2 lemons juice and zest
- One tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Honey or sugar to taste.
- 2 tablespoons butterfly pea syrup
- 6 cups water
Cover and let fuse for 24 to 48 hours.
Strain into a container and enjoy!
The butterfly pea syrup will turn a beautiful lavender color thanks to the lemon juice!