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Precautions and floral products

The flowers and leaves of the bergamot are edible.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Lise Servant)
Bergamot is an edible flower.

A few precautions

Much confusing and contradictory information has appeared concerning this renewed interest in eating flowers. It is thus important not to be tempted by their beauty and to beware of the likes of petunias, foxgloves and lilies-of-the-valley which are very poisonous.

Generally speaking, don't trust either the smell or the taste and use only species with well-established edibility reputations. Like for mushrooms, some are gastronomic delights and other can cause death or serious health problems. As newspaper editors say: "When in doubt, leave out".

Floral products

Several floral products are already used in our current eating habits. Cloves, for instance, are the dried flower buds of the clove tree which originated on an island in the Philippines. Precious saffron is produced with the minute dried stigma of a crocus flower (Crocus sativus).

Broccoli and artichokes are green flower buds. Rosewater is highly regarded in Turkish cuisine where it serves to flavour desserts and drinks. In Tunisia, there is a similar water based on geraniums (Pelargonium).

The buds, fruits and the seeds of several plants can also be used. The buds of pickled nasturtiums are used instead of capers and the ripe, dried and milled seeds are a pepper substitute. The natural yellow pigment of marigold and pot marigold flowers make them very economical substitutes for saffron.

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