Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a grain, often mistaken for containing gluten due to its name, buckwheat. In fact, buckwheat is not a wheat at all, which come from grass plants like other cereal grains. Buckwheat is a flowering, broadleaf annual related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. The buckwheat we consume are seeds from that plant. It’s packed with a variety of nutrients necessary if you’re on a vegan/vegetarian diet. Medical News Today states one cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains:
5.68 g protein
1.04 g fat
33.5 g carbohydrate
4.5 g fiber
148 milligrams (mg) potassium
118 mg phosphorous
86 mg magnesium
12 mg calcium
1.34 mg iron
If you’d like to learn more about buckwheat or how to grow your own crop, check out Grow Journey.
It’s summertime, which means all the fig trees in my area are full of ripening fruit! Figs are flowering shrubs that belong in the mulberry family. They do not bear flowers on branches; the fruit we see are actually inverted flowers! If you slice a fig open, you’ll see all the little “petals” on the inside. The flower matures and eventually forms little edible seeds, which gives figs its crunch when you bite into one.
According to Brittanica, there are approximaltey 900 species of figs and the “fig wasp” is responsible for pollinating most of the world’s figs! And often the female wasps don’t make it to the correct flower (male) to lay her eggs, thus dies inside the female fig. SO, yes, there is a possibility we are getting some insect protein as we consume figs. Want to learn more? Here’s an educational article and video about the relationship of figs and their pollinators: LINK.
2 pounds figs (purple or green) ~ stems removed and figs coarsely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
¼ cup and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a large saucepan, toss the figs together with the sugar and allow to sit for about 15 minutes, until the figs become juicy and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
Add the water and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. The fruit should be soft and the jam should slide down the spoon in heavy drops.
Allow the jam to cool to room temperature, then spoon them to mason jars and store in the refrigerator. These should last up to 3 months. They can also be frozen and thawed overnight in the refrigerator for later use.
I love gardening and using what I grow in the dishes I make. It’s so much fun! It’s even more exciting to learn that more or all parts of a flowers/plant are edible and can be incorporated into the dishes to add color and/or flavor.
I’ve compiled this non-comprehensive list by scouring my gardening books, magazines, and some websites. I may or may not be updating this list as I find more information. I will update the post and send out a new notification if a lot gets added.
Next time you are creating a culinary work of art, try to add another dimension to your dish! 🙂
These are guidelines acquired from many different reputable sources, but should NOT be considered professional advice. A good general rule of thumb, if you are NOT 100% certain about a flower, do NOT eat it. If you have hayfever or pollen allergies, do NOT eat flowers.
Best Time to Harvest/Gather: early mornings
Most Common and Safest Edible Flowers: nasturtium, pansy, violet, Johnny-jump-up, calendula, chive, sage
Do NOT Eat Flowers if You Have Allergies: If you have asthma, hayfever, or other allergies, do NOT eat flowers.
When in Doubt, Do NOT Eat IT: A good rule of thumb to live by: if you cannot positively identify a flower as edible, do NOT eat it.
ALWAYS Avoid Nightshade Flowers: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers and asparagus.
Beware of Pesticides: Never eat flowers from the side of a road, a lawn, or field known to have been treated, a nursery, garden center, or florist (they may have chemical residues that concentrate in the flowers).
Flower Prepping Tips: Gently wash them gently in a large bowl of cold water and let them air dry on a towel.
Storage: Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container lined with a damp paper towel.
NONCOMPREHENSITVE LIST OF EDIBLES
Alliums – Known as the “flowering onions.” All members of this genus are edible. All parts of the plants are edible. There are approximately four hundred species that includes the familiar onion, garlic, chives, ramps, shallots and leeks. Their flavors range from mild onions and leeks right through to strong onion and garlic. The flowers tend to have a stronger flavor than the leaves and the young developing seed-heads are even stronger. We eat the leaves and flowers mainly in salads. The leaves can also be cooked as a flavoring with other vegetables in soups, etc.
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria) – Also called garden rocket, roquette, rocket-salad, Oruga, rocketsalad, rocket-gentle; raukenkohl (German); rouquelle (French); rucola (Italian). The flowers are small, white with dark centers, and can be used in the salad for a light piquant flavor. The flowers taste very similar to the leaves and range in color from white to yellowish with dark purple veins. Arugula resembles radish leaves in both appearance and taste. Leaves are compound and have a spicy, peppery flavor that starts mild in young leaves and intensifies as they mature.
Banana Blossoms (Musa paradisiaca) – Also know as banana hearts. The flowers are a purple-maroon torpedo shaped. Banana blossoms are used in Southeast Asian cuisines. The blossoms can be cooked or eaten raw. The tough covering is usually removed until you get to the almost white tender parts of the blossom. It should be sliced and let it sit in water until most of the sap are gone. If you eat it raw, make sure the blossom comes from a variety that isn’t bitter. Most of the Southeast Asian varieties are not bitter.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – Depending on the type, the flowers are either bright white, pale pink, or a delicate lavender. The flavor of the flower is milder, but similar to the leaves of the same plant. Basil also has different varieties that have different milder flavors like lemon and mint.
Borage – Blue star-shaped blossoms practically fall off the plant when they are ready to eat. They have a mild cucumber flavor that is delicious in lemonade
Broccoli Florets (Brassica oleracea) – The top portion of broccoli is actually a cluster of flower buds. As the flower buds mature, each will open into a bright yellow flower, which is why they are called florets. Small yellow flowers have a mild spiciness (mild broccoli flavor), and are delicious in salads or in a stir-fry or steamer.
Calendula – Petals known as the “poor man’s saffron,” the sunset-hued marigold flower really does taste like saffron when it’s sautéedin olive oil to release its flavor.
Chive Blossoms (Allium schoenoprasum) – Delicate, oniony flavor. Use whole flowers or separate the individual petals. Use whenever a light onion flavor and aroma is desired. Separate the florets and enjoy the mild, onion flavor in a variety of dishes. Also see #1.
Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They should be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the crown daisy, also known as chop suey greens or shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.
Cilantro/Coriander (Coriander sativum) – Like the leaves and seeds, the flowers have a strong herbal flavor. Use leaves and flowers raw as the flavor fades quickly when cooked.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) – Member of the daisy family. Flowers are sweetest, with a honey-like flavor, when picked young. Mature flowers are bitter. Dandelion buds are tastier than the flowers: best to pick these when they are very close to the ground, tightly bunched in the center, and about the size of a small gumball.
Day Lilies (Hemerocallis species) – Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad. In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus. NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation.
Florence Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – It has a star-burst yellow flowers that have a mild anise flavor. Use with desserts or cold soups, or as a garnish with your entrees.
Garlic Blossoms (Allium sativum) – The flowers can be white or pink, and the stems are flat instead of round. The flavor has a garlicky zing that brings out the flavor of your favorite food. Milder than the garlic bulb. Wonderful in salads. Also see #1.
Hibiscus – Tart and sweet with a cranberry-like flavor. Often used in teas, cocktails, and salads.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) – Sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible. NOTE: Berries are highly poisonous – Do not eat them!
Jasmine (NOT Jessamine) – Very sweet, floral fragrance and flavor. Use in teas or desserts.Jasmine (jasmine officinale) – The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea. True Jasmine has oval, shiny leaves and tubular, waxy-white flowers. NOTE: The false Jasmine is in a completely different genus, “Gelsemium”, and family, “Loganiaceae”, is considered too poisonous for human consumption. This flower has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine, Carolina jasmine or jessamine, evening trumpet flower, gelsemium, and woodbine.
Johnny-Jump-Ups – Minty, almost bubblegum-y flavor. Serve on cakes or with soft mild cheese, like goat cheese.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Sweet, slightly perfume-tasting, with lemon and citrus notes. Lavender lends itself to savory dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets. NOTE: Do not consume lavender oil unless you absolutely know that it has not be sprayed and is culinary safe.
Lemon Verbena – Light lemon flavor that’s well-suited for sweet or savory cooking.
Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) – The marigold can be used as a substitute for saffron. Also great in salads as they have a citrus flavor.
Mint (Mentha spp) – The flavor of the flowers are minty, but with different overtones depending on the variety. Mint flowers and leaves are great in Middle Eastern dishes.
Nasturtiums – One of the most commonly eaten flowers. The flower may be vivid yellow, orange, or red as well as muted tones and bicolors. Both the leaves and the flowers have a peppery flavor, almost like watercress, and are best eaten uncooked. Toss petals into salads, top a sandwich, or make a spicy appetizer.
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) – Also known as ochro, okoro, quimgombo, quingumbo, ladies fingers and gumbo. It has hibiscus-like flowers and seed pods that, when picked tender, produce a delicious vegetable dish when stewed or fried. When cooked it resembles asparagus yet it may be left raw and served in a cold salad. The ripe seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee; the seed can be dried and powdered for storage and future use.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) – Milder version of plant’s leaf. Use as you would the herb.
Pansy/Viola (Viola X wittrockiana) – Slightly sweet green and faint grassy flavor. If you eat only the petals, the flavor is extremely mild, but if you eat the whole flower, there is a winter, green overtone. Use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, green salad, desserts or in soups.
Radish (Raphanus sativus) – Depending on the variety, flowers may be pink, white or yellow, and will have a distinctive, spicy bite (has a radish flavor). Best used in salads. The Radish shoots with their bright red or white tender stalks are very tasty and are great sauteed or in salads. Piquant pods can be eaten raw or cooked.
Red Clover (Trifolium species) – Sweet, anise-like, licorice. White and red clover blossoms were used in folk medicine against gout, rheumatism, and leucorrhea. It was also believed that the texture of fingernails and toenails would improve after drinking clover blossom tea. Native Americans used whole clover plants in salads, and made a white clover leaf tea for coughs and colds. Avoid bitter flowers that are turning brown, and choose those with the brightest color, which are tastiest. Raw flower heads can be difficult to digest.
Rose – While roses have a strong floral scent, their flavor is quite subtle and fruity. Roses lend themselves well to everything from soups and salads to teas, jams and desserts like this delicious strawberry, pomegranate, and rose petal treat. Roses only look beautiful in a bouquet, but pair well in some delicious dishes. Roses may be tasteless, sweet, perfumed, or slightly spicy. Chop the petals and mix with sugar. Let them infuse for a week and use for baking and desserts.
Rosemary – Milder version of leaf. Fresh or dried herb and blossoms enhance flavor of Mediterranean dishes. Use with meats, seafoods, sorbets or dressings. Lemon Rosemary Chicken
Sage – With their soft, yet sweet-savory flavor and beautiful color, sage flowers add dimension to a variety of dishes.
Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species) – The flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety. For example, a lemon-scented geranium would have lemon-scented flowers. They come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels. Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes. NOTE: Citronelle variety may not be edible.
Snap Dragon (Antirrhinum majus) – Delicate garden variety can be bland to bitter. Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions. Probably not the best flower to eat.
Snow Pea Blossoms (Pisum species) – Edible garden peas bloom mostly in white, but may have other pale coloring. The blossoms are slightly sweet and crunchy and they taste like peas. The shoots and vine tendrils are edible, with a delicate, pea-like flavor. Here again, remember that harvesting blooms will diminish your pea harvest, so you may want to plant extra. NOTE: Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous – do not eat.
Squash Blossoms – Mild raw squash taste. Usually cooked before eaten. Lightly dust with cornstarch and deep fry.
Sunflower (Helianthus annus) – The flower is best eaten in the bud stage when it tastes similar to artichokes. Once the flower opens, the petals may be used like chrysanthemums, the flavor is distinctly bittersweet. The unopened flower buds can also be steamed like artichokes.
Violets – Sweet and floral. Use in dessert or freeze into ice cubes for decorative drinking. Violets, which come in a range of pastel and vibrant colors,have a sweet and floral taste, making them a perfect companion for everything from salads to iced drinks. They are particularly beautiful when crystallized and used to top frosted cakes and other desserts.
Zucchini Flowers – The bright yellow flowers of the courgette or zucchini plant have a delicate and slightly sweet taste
As an organic home gardener, I am always researching and learning from successes and failures. I make mental notes and log what I’ve learned from current and past trials and errors, in preparation for my next seasonal garden plot! That prompted me to create my own comprehensive (or as much as I can) companion planting visual guide!
Back in the spring of 2014—after extensive research— I made a basic “companion planting” text chart of the main veggies often grown by home gardeners, such as myself. I found so much of the information intriguing that I decided to add the interesting tidbits under their respective produce. Midway, I thought “Hey, this would be so convenient if I made myself a visual chart for my fridge!” And that I did. 🙂 It is now in its third edition with updated original illustrations, more companions planting tips, and even information on edible parts of everyday produce, that most people are not aware of!
Here are some of my other gardening discoveries and experiences:
Marigolds: Sweet, sweet, beautiful marigolds. These gals play nicely with many veggies! It’s best to plant some among the other produce, in addition to planting a border of marigolds around your garden plot to act as a “shield” against pests. The lovely scent and bright, captivating colors will distract pests. Unfortunately slugs and snails do love marigolds, so keep all your eggshells; let them dry in the hot sun for a few days. Crunch up the shells and sprinkle them along the base of all your marigolds. You could also lightly sprinkle table salt along the base.
Florence fennel: This bad boy wears way too much of that delicious cologne and is a bit of a bully to MANY veggies. Keep him contained in his own pot, away from the garden plot, as he’s more of a loner!
Tarragon: What a thoughtful uncle he is, looking after all your vegetables—especially eggplant. Plant tarragon throughout your garden.
Mint: This hardy social butterfly likes to spread its roots wherever possible. Unless you want mint to take over, it’s best to keep it under control. I’ve planted mint inside a large, shallow terra cotta pot that I then put down into the garden plot. This creates a barrier around the rhizome root system. Sadly, mint attracts aphids once the weather gets consistently above the 70s. If the tips of your mint sprigs start to curl and deform, you have an aphid problem. Plant chives and cilantro near your mint patches to deter aphids.
Cilantro: This resilient little gal is a fighter and can withstand the coldest, bleakest nights during winter! She’s most vivacious during cool/cold weather and isn’t so fond of the heat. She’ll start to bolt (grow tall and flower) the second the weather gets warm. The upside is you can keep the seeds (known as coriander) and dry them for your cooking spice collection. The roots can be washed and added to soup stock. Her flowers also attract a myriad of sweet ladybugs. What do ladybugs LOVE to dine on? Aphids! Grow cilantro near your mint patches.
PURCHASE ON ETSY
This full-color chart is available as a direct-download, high-resolution PNG file on my Etsy Shop (Luluesque). Print it at home or the office and post it on your refrigerator as I have. ENJOY and Happy Gardening! 🙂
Lavandula, more commonly known as “lavender,” is a flowering plant that belongs in the mint family. The exceptionally fragrant and versatile flowers are used in medicines, aromatherapy, bath and home products, and food. When used as an essential oil, it has anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties and has a calming, soothing effect.
The sight and smell of lavender always make me daydream about running through a field of lavender in the south of France, on a warm, lazy summer day. 🙂
This super easy recipe comes from the Food and Wine website. Since I am a huge fan of lemons, I increased the lemon zest from 1 teaspoon to 2.
In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the chopped lavender and grated lemon zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in the butter at moderate speed. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Form the dough into a 4-inch log and chill for at least 45 minutes longer.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the shortbread dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on ungreased baking sheets. Freeze the rounds for 10 minutes.
Bake the shortbread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer the baked shortbread to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookie-dough log can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. The baked shortbread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
This is the first recipe of the new “Jardin” (French for “Garden”) series.
The mercury is soaring pretty high! I can tell we are well into summer when I step outside and I’m cloaked in a heavy blanket of warm air and my ears are delighted by the sound of the cicada orchestra in the evening.
Today I harvested a purple Asian eggplant, some baby okra, chives, and hot chilies. With these ingredients, along with a few others that I happen to already have in my pantry, we will be making a simple dish of roasted eggplant and okra, drizzled in a chive oil. I’m also using my small convention oven since I don’t want to contribute to the heat by using the large oven for such a small dish.
1 large purple Asian eggplant ~ cut into 1.5-2” sections, then sliced in half, lengthwise
Lightly coat the eggplant and okra in avocado oil. Spread evenly in a small baking cookie sheet.
Pop them in the convection oven, on the top shelf. Broil for 15 minutes at 425°F, or until golden brown around edges.
While the eggplant and okra are roasting, step over to the stove and heat one (1) tablespoon of avocado oil in a small stainless steel saucepan. I’m using medium-high setting and allowing it to heat for about 3 minutes.
Add the dried garlic and onion and stir it around until they start to turn a light brown color. Add the chives. Stir all the ingredients until they all turn an aromatic brown color. If you like things charred, you can aim for a darker color. Remove from the stove. Let cool for about 3 minutes.
NOW, this is the adventurous part. Drizzle just a touch of fish sauce into the fried chives concoction. Add the chilies. Mix it up.
Top your eggplant and okra with the fried chives and serve hot.
It’s a new year, why not embark on new culinary adventures: WILD EDIBLES! Ever heard of burdock, purslane, morel, wood sorrel, and borage? If not, check out the following links at the end of this blog and/or do your own research. You get brownie points if you can guess the wild edibles embedded in my graphic above!
You will be astonished at the availability of food for us foraging vegetarians and veggie-lovers! In fact, when I visited a Farmer’s Market in Portland, OR, I saw chickweed and henbit — “backyard weeds” that I’d uprooted from my own garden countless times before! At a vegan, raw food restaurant in Austin, TX, I noticed there were Lamb’s Quarters (no, it’s not what you think) mixed into my salad! On a hike in the Ozark Mountains region of NW Arkansas, I crossed a flowing stream with clusters of watercress, beckoning my name. In college, a friend and I used to go hunting for wild morel mushrooms early in the morning, after a thunderstorm from the night before. All along the roadsides of a quaint Peloponnesian town in Greece, I found plenty of chamomile soaking up the Mediterannean sun! And you cannot imagine my delightful surprise when I discovered that the Jamaican street fare, callaloo pies, were actually made with amaranth! When I was a child, we used to go foraging for wild amaranth so that my sweet Mama could make soup for dinner. It truly is simply amazing how much wild, edible food is just right beneath your feet, or within reach right in your own backyard! You just have to look! 🙂
CAUTION:Do NOT CONSUME anything you are not 150% CERTAIN is a wild edible. I and the authors and photographers of these websites are not accountable. If you are interested in becoming a forager, do LOTS of research, or consult an expert.
Here are some very informative websites for starters. Thank-you to these wonderful bloggers/contributors!
Isn’t my recipe name clever? It’s my own amalgamation of “OKRA” and “toMATO.” (I may trademark this before some big company steals my idea. ;))
Amalgamation, simply, is the process of combining, or uniting, two or more entities. You’ve most likely heard this term used in science class (you were awake in class, right?). Well kids, you learn something new everyday! As it turns out, like gardening (think “companion planting“), there is MUCH science involved in cooking. Take, for instance, this delicious, fiber-rich, vegetarian meal you are about to create.
The high acidity in tomatoes actually neutralize okra “slime.” YES. Isn’t the science of cooking so much fun? In fact, if you were to make a different recipe that contains okra, but dislike the mucilaginous (fun word!) property that makes okra a much-loved or much-hated vegetable, just add acid in the form of citrus juice or vinegar.
This is another Lulu Original recipe. You may wonder “why all the veggie ingredients?” Life is short. Why not? 🙂
8 cups filtered water
Organic EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes ~ chunky
2 14.5 ounce cans organic navy beans
1 large yellow onion ~ peeled, coarsely chopped
1 garlic bulb ~ peeled, smashed or minced
1 medium bag frozen okra ~ precut
3 large tomatoes ~ skin on, cut into large chunks
1 cup cremini mushrooms ~ coarsely chopped
4 large stalks organic celery ~ cut into small pieces
1 large organic carrot ~ skin on, cut into slices or small pieces
8 bay leaves
10 sprigs flat leaf Italian parsley ~ big stems discarded, coarsely chopped; reserve some for garnish