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Food on Fridays with Ann
On the May 30 NPR program Tell Me More, Michelle Martin moderated a discussion about minimalist parenting. Martin asked guest Jamila Bey where she stood regarding the idea of doing more with less as a parent. Bey said that in her home, they value critical thinking and come up with activities to teach her five-year-old son to think:
[T]his past weekend, for example, we went camping and the idea was, OK. Well, let’s pretend that you can’t find Mommy and you have to identify three plants you recognize…so I had the kid running around and it took hours. He could identify the wild strawberries and we ate a lot of wild onions and chives that you can pull right out of the ground and he could point to the black walnut tree.
So no money, other than the gas to get there, and it really did let us be together as a family, doing something together, teaching him to…know his environment. Something he’ll remember forever, I hope.
At this rate, Bey’s son will be ready for My Side of the Mountain in a few years, smoking venison, gathering nuts, and digging up tubers for winter provisions. I didn’t want to be outpaced by a five-year-old, so after listening to that program and writing about snacking on succulents, I decided to learn more about edible plants.
I started with pansies. According to multiple sites, pansies are edible.
In fact, one evening I came across a rabbit nibbling on my pansies. “Hey!” I exclaimed, as if encountering a thief snatching twenties from an ATM, “Hey! He’s eating my pansies!”
The audacious bunny scampered away, a purple bloom still sticking out of his mouth. I kept calling after him like Farmer McGregor shouting at Peter Rabbit, “Stop munching on my blooms! Those are my pansies!”
It was my own fault. I’d left them on the ground to give them shade and to water more thoroughly, so they sat at a bunny’s eye (and mouth) level, easy pickin’s.
If it was good enough for the rabbit, I decided it was good enough for me. I considered using a bloom to top a salad, but ended up dressing up dessert.
I picked an imperfect bloom, brought it in, discovered two tiny slugs (so that’s what’s been eating holes in the petals!), pulled them off and flicked them out the door, washed the pansy thoroughly, and then ate some of its petals with one square of Endangered Species dark chocolate.
I didn’t taste any distinct flavor. So I finished chewing the petals and then tossed the remaining fragments in the trash.
Outside, the slugs will probably nibble holes in the rest of the flowers all night long, but I did place the containers back in the window boxes, out of Peter Rabbit’s reach.
Conclusion: Pansies are edible (just ask the bunny and slugs), but not all that tasty.
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Photos by Ann Kroeker. “Pin” these images in a way that links back to this particular page, giving proper credit.
Smaller button for various uses
Janis@Open My Ears Lord says
You’re braver than I am Ann. I don’t think I’d eat a pansy. Maybe I’d taste the edge of one if I knew it had not been sprayed with any chemical. I know the bunnies eat them up and live. They must have a better digestive system than I do!
However, I loved your beautiful pic of the pansies!! Maybe it’s time to find some shade here and plant them. They are so beautiful.
Janis, you have a good point here that I forgot to mention–we need to be sure they have not been sprayed. It felt weird biting into the petals, especially because they were so dark. Maybe if I had a more brightly colored flower it wouldn’t have felt so intense? They need cool, and when the temperature heats up, the shade helps.
April @ The 21st Century Housewife says
I loved the story about Michelle’s son – that is such a great thing to do with your kids! Edible flowers are being used more and more in restaurants over here in the UK and Europe for dressing and decorating salads, desserts etc. I must admit, I rarely actually eat them, as my experience of them is much the same as yours. I find them a bit chewy, and rather flavourless – plus I’m a bit freaked out that I’m eating a flower 🙂 They sure are pretty though! Thank you for hosting 🙂
Using them for pretty may be what I need to do. Surprise a friend by sticking it on top of a piece of cake, but not expect her to actually eat it. 🙂
Somewhere in the bookcase in the breakfast room there is a book of recipes dating to the Revolutionary era. It tells how to prepare flowers to eat, and I am pretty sure that, among other things, you coat them with sugar. Doesn’t matter then how tasteless they are! If memory serves, they suggested violets. I think nasturiums are used in salads…
Ahhhhh….great idea. Sugar helps everything from medicine to flowers go down! The resources I was looking through also mentioned nasturtiums and violets. I remember my friend L.L. Barkat writing about eating violets at one of her blogs: http://greeninventionscentral.blogspot.com/2007/05/wordless-wednesday-eating-violets.html
Hazel Moon says
Years ago we considered investing in the small orchards that are placed in the exotic drinks. we were told they can be eaten and are quite tasty. We backed out on the investment and did not sample the flowers. Pansy in a salad might be colorful and perhaps nice! Oh yes, Next time flick the slugs down the cammode, not back out into the yard.
Hazel Moon says
orchid sorry for my spelling.
Orchids! Those do seem fancy!
Good thought on the slugs. What was I thinking? I just tossed them right back out to feast on my yard!
On reflection, I think you wash the flower, then dip it in beaten egg white and dust it with the sugar….
Based on your suggestion, I plugged a few key words into the search bar and found this: http://www.thebakingpan.com/baking-tips/candied-edible-flowers.html
The egg white and sugar thing works great on grapes, too! Makes a nice garnish to a fancy dinner and they taste ‘way better than flowers!
Megan Willome says
Those two tiny slugs were probably saying to themselves, ““Stop munching on my blooms! Those are my pansies!”
Ann Kroeker says
Hilarious! You’re right–it’s all a matter of perspective!