To discover the artful side of gastronomy you do not have to visit a fine dining restaurant in the first place. You can create your own masterpieces at home, in your kitchen.
The essential source of popping colors, velvety petals, and unbelievable taste on your plate are definitely edible flowers. They are easily accessible for anyone these days so even if you have no place to sow some seeds, there are reliable farmers who grow these beautiful flowers in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to provide a natural experience for their customers.
As a part of the 'Behind the Scenes' post series, I'll bring you to the sunny Sommerset, where I visited the magical garden of Incredible Edible Flowers and had a walk and chat with the owner, Sian Davis.
The path that led Sian to establish her edible flower garden in the most charming part of England is quite adventurous. Living in an urban area of West London under the Heathrow flight path and working for an industry-leading music brand is about the opposite of what you would think when Sian opens the gate of the garden to greet you.
While being a Londoner she started to be interested in growing her own plants and this led her to start studying horticulture at a college then gained some experience while working for a specialist nursery. At the same time, Sian and her husband had plans to move to the countryside, and one of the most important requirements became to find a property with a piece of land without specific plans for what to grow exactly.
In 2016 they moved into their lovely cottage with the desired land. Life in Sommerset meant a significant difference in their lifestyle compared to the one they used to live in London. While working for a commercial nursery Sian discovered how popular edible flowers became among chefs and cake makers, which clarified what she will dedicate her dream business to that she launched in 2018 after trialing some interesting varieties.
These flowers are grown organically without using harmful chemicals. One of the main principles is preserving the health of the soil by using only organic seaweed-based plant food approved by the Soil Association. Sian created and supports biodiversity in her micro-ecosystem where plants, insects, birds, and mammals are living together.
The plants have their natural cycles, they flower when they would do so naturally, which provides a versatile selection of edible flowers from Spring to Autumn. At the end of my visit, we freshly picked these beauties in the picture below. This guide could help you to see what's in season during the summer. Find the available selection of flowers here.
The most surprising experience was tasting of Nasturtium crop which is very peppery, Sian told me it is a rare element on the market, and chefs love them if available. She loves pickling them!
The most common question you asked in my Instagram stories was:
- Once purchasing edible flowers, how to keep them fresh?
Sian's suggestion is to use them in 3-5 days and keep them in their sealed containers in the middle of the fridge, where there is neither too warm nor too cold. You do not have to add water to their container.
And finally, let's see some quick ideas on how to use edible flowers for everyday dishes in your own home.
Right after you purchased them, use some as their most fresh, add to drinks, dishes, decorate cakes, or cookies. The ones you do not want to use right away, let's preserve them. If you make crystallized flowers or freeze them into ice cubes you can significantly extend their storage time and at the same time introduce some unusual and fragrant to your everyday cooking or boost a refreshing drink.