Besides the qualities inherent in the edible flowers themselves, when they’re used in dishes and menus, this usage is typically perceived as going above and beyond to create a special experience for the diner. And, because the hospitality industry is a competitive one, these extra touches can make a big difference in pleasing diners and guests and gaining their loyalty and positive reviews and recommendations.
Dishes featuring edible flowers are easier to market and promote than many others, too, because they automatically create a more Instagram-friendly dish. You can share your beautiful plates on social media and, when people enjoy eating these dishes, then these diners and guests can share images of their meals with friends and family on their own social media platforms. This extends your brand’s reach in a way that doesn’t cost you a thing.
Plus, in today’s world, increasing numbers of people are choosing plant-based dishes, and edible flowers are a natural extension of them. Also, because they come in a rainbow of hues, you can choose ones to enhance specific color schemes—whether that’s of the restaurant or hotel itself or to create plates that honor the hues of the season. You can also incorporate them in dishes to match the color theme of a wedding party or otherwise use them as a celebratory beacon on the plate.
Edible Flower Applications
First, we already know how our chefs are numbered among the most creative in the industry, whether they create their culinary magic in restaurants, hotels, or in private venues. We also love how inventive our home cook customers are. With that said, we thought we’d do a deep dive into the imaginative ways that Chef Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute is exploring and using edible flowers to see if this kickstarts new and different ideas for you—and we’d love to hear and see how you’re using them, too.
Brainstorming About Breakfast
One elegantly simple way to use edible flowers on the breakfast menu is to add stunning touches of citrus begonia to fresh yogurt dishes. Another is to add farm-fresh vegetable blooms to omelets, perhaps dill blooms. Or what about adding deliciously edible and unabashedly boisterous French marigolds to a bowl of hearty oatmeal? And just imagine what eye-catchingly beautiful mixed flowers can do to further enhance your granola offerings.
What about making edible flower butters for your bagels? Or sweetened viola jam?
Layering for Lunch
As just one example, think about the salads on your menu. Which ones can be even more delicious with the addition of a layer of cucumber blooms? Or borage blooms? Or, what new salads can you build around those ingredients?
Another idea is to create your own proprietary house tea, using a unique blend of edible flowers as the bags. This is the type of menu item that can easily become a specialty of the restaurant.
Or, you can create a new take on an old favorite—cannoli—by making sheets of petals using edible flowers and starched water. Once this mixture dries, you can cut it, wrap it around a tube and bake it.
Dreaming About Dinner
Johnny jump ups can transform your bread and butter course into something to write home about, while you can easily create a raw bar to remember with the addition of farm-fresh borage blooms, oyster leaf and cucumber bloom. You can add a flowering herb bouquet to roast duck and so much more.
For the soup course, you can float gorgeous white dianthus on your consommé, a bloom that glides like a white swan will do when the breeze changes.
In between courses, or in place of dinner mints, orange hyssop is a unique and attractive alternative. Or, you could laminate sheets of pasta with edible flowers, butter and herbs for an eye-catching appeal—and do something quite similar with crackers.
Creating Divine Desserts
“The implementation of such as the crystallized viola can have a tremendous impact on a plate of food, elevating the quality to that that can truly represent fine dining. And the crystallized viola is only just one example of many varieties of edible flowers that are used in fine restaurant establishments for the purposes of fine dining.” (Eatinoc.com)
You can create candied violas, johnny jump ups and mini florets using egg whites and superfine sugar. You can also make deliciously sweetened granita and, to add pops of color—whether that’s pink or red, or purple, green, yellow and white—you can add grated edible flowers.
Sorrel bloom garnishes can take delicious doughnuts to a whole new level, while dried edible flowers can play a lovely role in decorating cakes, cupcakes, scones and more that will be long remembered and appreciated. Because time is often of the essence in restaurant kitchens, you can dehydrate edible flowers to create a flower flour dry mix where you simply add egg and oil—and then bake desserts containing deliciously edible confetti.
Cocktails, Mocktails and Bar Foods
Consider gathering together your mixologists to mull over how each of these drinks can benefit from the addition of edible flowers and vegetable blooms, while still remaining true to their nature:
Gin and Tonic
Edible flowers frozen in clear ice make a beautiful presentation all by itself and you can also experiment with changing the colors of cocktails through the interaction of bases and acids.
You can create a drink with violas, for example, and an acidic ice. This cocktail can start out as blue or dark purple and, as the ice melts, the violas get muddled and the drink turns pink. Or you can add violas and butterfly pea blooms into kombucha and, as the PH levels decrease, the kombucha will turn pink and purple.
You can also preserve edible flowers in sugars and salts and use them in a variety of ways.
Rethinking Room Service and More
Hotel chefs: imagine your late-night crudité offering including petite-sized vegetables and savory veggie blooms. Edible flowers at your coffee kiosks, meanwhile, naturally capture the attention of your guests and add value to what they purchase. Edible flowers in display cases can point guests in a certain direction, as well, perhaps to the banquet hall.
More Creative Ideas
It can help, Chef Jamie says, to think about a food that’s already enjoyed and to then experiment with an edible flower that can be prepared in a similar way. Many people, for example, love capers—and these flower buds aren’t especially delicious until pickled. So, what about pickling the unopened buds of the nasturtium?
You can also make a beautiful and aromatic nasturtium flower vinegar, created in an ultrasonic bath with the sound waves giving the vinegar even more flavor. Thyme blooms can also be purely expressed in bottles of alcohol. Although this isn’t true for all ingredients, the aroma of thyme becomes even more incredible through this process. What dressings can you create?
Also think about what can be deliciously fried. Mustard blooms come to Jamie’s mind because they caramelize well and get wonderfully crispy quickly.
Edible Flower List
The Chef’s Garden is continually experimenting to bring chefs the quality products they want and need, so this list is always evolving. With that said, here is an edible flower list from February 2020:
Johnny jump ups
You can click on any of these links and explore the marvelous varieties of each one for use in your culinary dishes, and you can also order edible flower blends. At The Chef’s Garden, we truly see edible flowers as one of nature’s miracles.
Vegetable Blooms List
Depending upon your intent and application, many times vegetable blooms are just what’s needed to add extra flavor, texture and visual appeal to dishes. Options include:
Crystal lettuce blooms
Mixed mustard blooms
Our chefs, by the way, taught us the value of vegetable blooms; here is part of that story.
What Matters Most: Your Vision for Edible Flowers
Ideas listed in this post will hopefully kickstart your own imagination in new and interesting ways, whether you want to fold flowers into whipped cream or frostings, garnish ice creams, create a line of new specialty salads, or something else entirely.
What matters most is how you differentiate your organization through the use of edible flowers. So, we invite you to contact us today to let us know how we can provide the products you need to galvanize your imagination, spark a fresh idea, and keep your guests marveling at the dishes you serve them in your restaurant.