Christine Gaoa, Edible, Feature, Flowers

Today’s Menu: Flowers!!!

What would happen if there are no flowers to this world of ours? Simply boring, perhaps meaningless, without color, seems barren.

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into,” noted Henry Beecher. “Earths laughs in flowers, “Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in Hamatreya. And Emma Goldman declared, “I’d rather have rose on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meaning because the flower selection was limited and people used more symbols and gestures to communicate than words. But today, with so many flower choices, there are no rules – it’s the sentiment that gives the gift its meaning.

People always need to add some freshness in their lives. Flowers have a capacity to regulate people’s emotions. For example, the chrysanthemum makes people feel loyal and truthful; lilies represent purity and love.

But flowers are not merely objects of beauty for decoration and fragrance. Unknowingly, hundreds of fresh flowers are edible but only few are widely marketed as food. Flowers are not only for appreciation but consumption as well. While flowers are often used fresh, they are also preserved for later use when they are stored dried, freeze-dried, candied, crystallized, or even frozen in ice cubes.

Oftentimes flowers are used to add color and flavor to salads. Squash flowers for instance, are dipped in breadcrumbs and fired. Some edible flowers are sometimes candied such a daisy. See there is more to discover in our environment. Most people might not know this, but roses are edible and as with many edible flowers, they actually are quite tasty. Some claim they taste like a sweet apple fruit and others fail to describe the taste of a rose, but a favorite is always candied rose petals, which are a great confection to decorate cookies, cakes, and puddings.

But did you know that you can make omelet out of gumamela leaves? It was discovered in a study conducted by researchers from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB). Gumamela is very common in many gardens, but it is mostly used to adorn table tops or a girl’s hair. The petals of gumamela flower can be pickled or even made as jelly. The flower buds and leaves can also be prepared into a vegetable salad as an omelet (fried with scrambled egg) or a sautéed vegetable dish.

The red and fleshy calyces (outer petals) of rossele flowers can be made as well into wine and jellies. In addition, the young leaves can be used as substitute for spinach, or maybe cooked with fish or meat in making sinigang.

But the use of edible flowers as food also raises a number of concerns. First, culinary flowers must be free from insecticides and herbicides. In one sense, assuring toxin-free flowers is easy because fresh flower buds and flowers grow quickly. On some plants it takes only a few days for new buds and flowers to form. On the other hand, commercial flowers are often sprayed to keep them pest-free and visually attractive.

Perhaps there is still much more to be learned about the secret of flowers.


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