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Pretty Enough to Eat: Portland Blooms With Edible Flowers

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Squash blossom

Pretty enough to eat: Squash blossom

Portland is bursting with beautiful blooms this year. And many of them are not just pretty, but palatable too. 

Nothing embodies love and beauty more than a fresh flower. But what if you could have your bouquet and eat it, too?

We all enjoy flowers for their splendor and fragrance in the garden, but let’s not overlook their versatility as a delectable food source. Whether they garnish salads and entrees, infuse syrups for cocktails, or are candied to decorate cupcakes, the possibilities are endless and always add a touch of romance in the kitchen. 

Herb & Vegetable Flowers

Many edible flowers don’t taste like much, but if you’re looking for flavor, then consider the flowers of fresh herbs. Many culinary herbs produce delicious blossoms that offer a stronger flavor than their leaves.

Attentive gardeners usually pinch off the delicate white flowers of basil or cilantro to keep the plants producing longer. Before you drop them into the compost bin, consider sprinkling them in salads, salsas or on heirloom tomato slices.  

The whimsical purple globes of the chive plant in flower are beautiful sprinkled over a baked potato or scrambled eggs in place of the stems. Oregano or thyme blossoms are perfect on fresh pasta, while the vibrant blue of rosemary flowers adds a pungent yet slightly sweet punch to any dish.

Dill flowers can be added to pickling brine for a mild dill flavor. Catnip flowers offer a spicy-sweet mint flavor to chocolate desserts.

Lavender blossoms can be dried and added to a jar of sugar. In a few weeks the infused sugar will be ready to flavor tea, whipped cream, cookie dough or cake batter with the relaxing aroma of lavender fields.

In the vegetable garden, look no farther than the ever-bearing squash family. To make sure your future crop isn’t decimated, pick only the fuzzier male flowers, which have only one pistil inside and no enlarged ovary on the base of the flower. Stuff these massive blossoms with mozzarella and prosciutto or julienned mint and feta for a Greek variation. Batter and fry the blossoms for an irresistible summer appetizer.

Broad bean flowers are also delicious in salads, which have an exotic orchid-like shape and carry the delicate taste of fresh beans.

The nightshade family’s flowers (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes) are toxic and should be avoided.

Candying Flowers

Painting petals

Painting petals

Forget tediously piping frosted roses onto cakes. Why not use the real thing?

All you need to candy flowers is a small paint brush, a beaten egg white and some super fine sugar. Some classic choices are violets, pansies, rose petals, borage flowers, primroses, citrus flowers, begonias, and fuchsias. To candy, beat an egg white until slightly frothy to break up the proteins and allow for a thinner, paintable consistency. Paint both sides of every petal with the egg white, then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and let dry completely, usually 12-36 hours. Store flowers in a jar in the refrigerator for up to one year.

This is a great summer activity to do with children, as they can help pick the blooms themselves and there is no messy paint to clean up afterwards!  

Flower syrups are another easy and elegant way to preserve the flora of summer all year long. How about serving up hibiscus whiskey sours or lavender martinis for your next cocktail party? Simply steep petals in boiling water, strain out, and then add sugar to this flower ‘tea’ to make simple syrup. The syrup will thicken as it cools and stores in an airtight container indefinitely.

Play around with different combinations to get the perfect flavor and color. 

There are thousands of edible flowers right in your neighborhood with endless culinary possibilities. When cooking with flowers remember to only harvest and eat flowers that you have grown yourself or that you know have not been sprayed with pesticides. Store-bought flowers are not organic and should never be consumed. Call the Multnomah County Extension Service (503-445-4608) to find out what flower species are edible.

Once you stop to smell (and eat) the roses, you’ll never look at a flower the same way again. Happy hunting. 

Rose City Salad Dressing

•    4 leaves fresh basil
•    20 scented rose petals (fresh)
•    1/2 cup olive oil
•    2 tbsp sugar
•    1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
•    salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste 

Chop the basil and rose petals. Mix in all other ingredients. Keeps for one week.

An urban farmer and master gardener, Amélie Rousseau writes for fellow explorers and eaters of the plant kingdom. It's a jungle out there. 

Home Page Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight cc


Related Slideshow: Top 20 Swimming Holes to Visit this Summer

This summer is expected to bring plenty of heat, so in order to cool off GoLocalPDX has you covered as to which swimming holes you should visit. If you're up for a drive be sure to check out some of these locations around Portland. 

Prev Next

Hagg Lake

Hagg Lake, which is located in Northwest Oregon, is one of the closest lakes to the city of Portland. For that reason, this particular swimming hole is one of the most popular go-to spots throughout the summer season.

Fee $6 ($4 seniors)

50250 SW Scoggins Valley Road, Gaston, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

High Rocks

If you consider yourself a daredevil we have the perfect location for you to visit. Just south of Portland are the High Rocks. The High Rocks are ideal for both, cliff-diving and just casual swimming. 

E Arlington St, Gladstone, OR

Prev Next

Moulton Falls

Moulton Falls will undoubtedly have something for everyone. There are waterfalls, flat rocks for sliding and even flat water upstream that’s perfect for swimming. Unfortunately, the only downside is that it this location fills up quickly with people, so make sure to get there early.

27781 NE Lucia Falls Rd, Yacolt, WA

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Buck Lake

This lake is located about an hour away from downtown Portland. Those who choose to visit this spot won’t be disappointed. The water is so clear that you can see the rocks at the bottom of the lake. Buck Lake is defintely Instagram worthy.

16400 Champion Way, Sandy, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Opal Pool

Opal Creek is one of Oregon’s most iconic swimming holes. The 25-foot deep swimming hole attracts visitors from all over the area. The only downside (or upside for some) is that in order to get to this spot you have to hike through a 3.5 mile logging road. 

Fee $5

2 hours Southeast of Portland

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Punch Bowl Falls

Not only is Punch Bowl a great hike this summer, but it's also a great swimming hole. Punch Bowl Falls drops into one of Portland’s most popular swimming holes. Just be aware that there is no diving or jumping allowed.

Trail #440, Cascade Locks, OR 97014

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Siouxson Creek

This prime swimming hole will not disappoint its guests. The emerald green waters are finally warm enough for swimmers to come visit. 

NF-5701, Amboy, WA 

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Oneonta Gorge

If you are looking for a swimming hole that will cool you off on a hot summer day, then make a trip out to Oneonta Falls. Hopefully you’re also feeling adventurous since there are plenty of trees that are perfect for climbing and jumping off of.

40 minutes east of Portland

Prev Next

Blue Lake

One of the most well known, family friendly lakes in Oregon is Blue Lake. Not only do they have activities for the whole family, they also have activities specifically for kids. Such as a playground and a kiddo garden.

Fee $5

20500 NE Marine Dr, Fairview, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Trillium Lake

If you want to go for a swim with one of the most scenic views that Oregon has to offer then check out Trillium Lake. This location is about 40 minutes outside Portland and has a beautiful backdrop of Mt. Hood to set the scene.

40 minutes Southeast from Portland

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Dougan Falls

This swimming hole is located up south in Washougal, Washington. It’s one of the lesser known swimming holes, but it will still provide plenty of fun. Swimmers can jump off rocks if they’re seeking a thrill, or just chill by the waterfall if they want to relax. 

82 Dougan Falls Ln, Washougal, WA

Prev Next

Glenn Otto Park

If you’re looking for a place to relax after tubing down the Sandy River, head over to Glenn Otto Park. This is one of the warmer locations that you will find this summer. 

1106 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Timothy Lake

About an hour Southeast of Portland you’ll find Timothy Lake. With summer right around the corner this lake is not only perfect for swimming, but also for fishing and boating. There's also a campsite if you would like to make it a weekend event.

Fee $3

60 minutes Southeast of Portland

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Triangle Lake

If you happen to be closer to Eugene, Triangle Lake is the perfect spot to spend the day. What attracts people to this lake are the rock slides, which is fun no matter how old you are.

30 minutes west of Junction City

Prev Next

Wildwood Falls

Wildwood, which is located near Cottage Grove, is a very popular swimming hole over the summer. One reason this spot is so popular is because of the 20 foot cliff that people enjoy jumping off of. If you’re feeling brave then take the jump.

30 minutes southeast of Cottage Grove

Prev Next

Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is one of the largest lakes in the Portland area. Visitors who choose to visit this lake will also have the opportunity to kayak, canoe or rowboat. 

18330 NW Sauvie Island Road, Portland, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Rooster Rock

Rooster Rock is one of the more secluded areas for swimming in near Portland. This swimming hole is hidden behind various mountains and trees. But be warned that the eastern portion is a clothing-optional beach.

Exit 25 & Highway 84, Corbett, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Marine Drive

Just north of the Portland Airport you'll find Marine Drive Beach. This beach is one of the most popular spots for residents of Portland and Vancouver. The best part is, as you relax you can watch the planes fly in. 

Approximately River Mile 110, just north of Portland International Airport 

Prev Next

Lost Lake

Lost Lake is conviniently located in the Mount Hood National Forest. Although this is the second deepest lake in the Mount Hood area, there are still several safe swimming spots for children. 

Fee $6

9000 Lost Lake Road, Hood River, OR

For more information click HERE.

Prev Next

Lake Merwin

About an hour away from Portland is Lake Merwin. Lake Merwin is a great spot to take the family for the day considering how scenic the surrounding area is. Pack a lunch and head out to this location!

24706 NE Columbia Tie Rd, Amboy, WA

For more information click HERE.


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