These days people recognize that many flowers in addition to being decorative are indeed edible which is why we see a salad topped with nasturtiums or cookies with real rose or pansy petals pressed into the frosting or even a bowl of punch with violets or violas floating on top. However I am going to give you a few ways to use flowers in a more savory way in cooking.
To make herb vinegar, wash your fresh herbs thoroughly then allow to air dry. Use any type of vinegar with a 5% acidity. Rice and wine vinegars are very popular, but distilled white works fine too. Place the herbs in a glass heat-resistant jar. Pour vinegar over herbs to cover completely. Using the handle of a wooden or plastic spoon bruise the herbs in the vinegar. Then place jar in microwave for 2 minutes on high. Allow to cool and steep.
In about 2 weeks the vinegar starts to turn a lovely pink and picks up a light onionly flavor akin to chives. It can then be used to make salad dressing and marinades. I do sell the vinegar some years, but it is always gone in a hurry.
Marigolds brighten up the summer months and Pot Marigold, also known as Calendula is a wonderful annual to grow. I plant them as an edging around evergreen beds as well as my rain garden and my vegetable gardens. The flowers are bright, colorful and sunny and cannot help but lift your mood and they are totally edible. You can use calendula petals to make this wonderful vegetable soup.
2 cups calendula flowers
1 cup young calendula leaves
1 Tbls lemon juice (or more to taste)
calendula petals or flower heads for garnish
Combine chicken stock, rice, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed pepper in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes or until rice is just cooked. Add spinach, chives, parsley and calendula flowers and leaves and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Garnish with fresh calendula. Serve at once with a flower in each bowl.
Herbs De Provence. Herbs de Provence can be used to marinades, sauces and as a meat rub.
Simplified Herbs De Provence
Combine dried herbs in equal amounts and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
You can make your own quick rose water. It has not long term shelf life, so use it up in 6 months and keep refrigerated. But you can use as a bath splash and in these savory cookies while you have it on hand.
Quick Rose Water
from the Program Body Beautiful by Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
Adapted from Herbs through the Seasons at Caprilands by Adelma Simmons
1 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flower
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbls rose water or 1 tsp rose syrup
2 Tbls caraway seeds
raisins for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and honey. Add eggs and beat well. Sift flours with baking soda and cream of tartar. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir in rose water or rose syrup and caraway seeds. Drop mixture by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a moistened finger and put a raisin in the center of each cookie. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack. Make 8 dozen.