Thursday, June 21, 2012

Edible Flowers to Enhance Salad Mixes for Market

I like chive flowers in my salad (debi)
Value-added products, like mesclun mixed with calendula flowers, can generate excitement in the consumer and added income for the grower. Since many people are unfamiliar with using edible flowers, it is always a good idea to provide free samples and recipes. Remind your customers that edible flowers mixed in summer salads create unique colors and tastes. Often, customers will use these flowers for special events—placing crystallized violets on wedding cakes, for example. It is up to the grower to remind consumers of these special uses. As for pricing, the grower must decide what the market will bear.

Edible flowers can be used as a diversification strategy. Edibles are usually grown in conjunction with cut flowers, herbs, and specialty lettuces, in order to complement them and create opportunities for value-added products.

There are perhaps 100 types of common garden flowers that are both edible and palatable. Many seed catalogs offer edible flower selections, complete with descriptions and recipes. Some of the more popular edible flowers include:

• Bachelor button        • Bee balm  
I like making hibiscus tea
with the dried petals.  (debi)
• Borage                     • Calendula
• Chamomile               • Chive flowers
• Dandelion                 • Daylily
• Dianthus                   • Hibiscus
• Hollyhock                 • Impatiens
• Lilac                         • Marigold
• Mint                         • Nasturtium
• Pansy                       • Roses
• Sage                         • Squash blossom
• Violet

Flowers are rich in nectar and pollen, and some are high in vitamins and minerals. For instance, roses—especially rose hips—are very high in vitamin C, marigolds and nasturtiums contain vitamin C, and dandelion blossoms contain vitamins A and C. Flowers are also nearly calorie-free.
For more information, see the ATTRA publication Edible FlowersThis publication discusses some of the basic production and marketing concerns for edible flowers and offers some cautions on non-edible or toxic flowers.

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