iFarm team has started an experiment for cultivation of edible flowers. How to use them, recipes from all over the world.
Ок, iFarm, what flowers could be eatable? Edible flowers are flowers that are safe to eat; flowers may be eaten as fruits as a main part of a meal or you can add them to dishes, drinks as an ingredient, decoration or natural flavor.
Is adding flowers to dishes a new mainstream? Not at all. The first mentions about edible flowers was at 140 b.c.- the ancient Romans added mallow, violets and roses to the dishes on feasts devoted to military victories.
In China the love of edible flowers was at its peak during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Women ate flowers for better skin. They also cooked pastry with pine flowers.
During the Renaissance (XV—XVII) the audience enjoyed the rose water and braised primroses; carnation flowers petals were the main ingredient of "Chartrese" – liqueur that made the Carthusian Order monks in wine cellars of the Voiron community near the massive Chartreuse (fr. Massif de la Chartreuse) in the Prealps.
During the Victorian era (1837—1901) candied violets was popular dishes, they retained delicate taste with additional texture and sweetness.
Why edible flowers are not so popular today? At the beginning of the 20th century, when pesticides became popular and food was produced in industrial scale edible flowers went out of fashion. Flowers and pesticides are incompatible, you should eat the flowers at the day you pick them up otherwise they become drooping and tasteless. They need too much attention and every one forget them.
In the 21st century more people wish to eat locally cultivated food using organic farming. Thanks to that the farmers remembered about edible flowers.
Such an organic farming is flower farm in Tokyo suburb; about 40 varieties of flowers are cultivated there all year round, including cyclamens, pansies, snapdragons and violets. All of them are used in Japan best restaurants, which chefs created unique dishes.
It turns out that some demand exists? Which one? According to the edible flowers list of foreign producers the demand exists. And it is not small. The market is developing. English company Maddocks Farm Organics offers dried flowers, flowers for wedding cakes decoration, Christmas wreaths (made of edible flowers) and other.
The average prices for edible flowers are the following: begonia — €10 per 10 flowers, lavender — €13 per 50 flowering sprigs, phlox — €12 per 100 flowers, roses — €24 per 5 open roses and 7 partly open roses, tulips — €14,5 per 5 flowers, zinnia — €7 per 8 large flowers or 15 small.
What are health benefits of edible flowers? Edible flowers have high antioxidant properties and remove toxins out of the body. They have such health benefit as anti-cancer property against: liver cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. And lastly there are no calories in edible flowers.
What do foreign restaurateurs say over edible flowers? The owner of Japanese Olive Tree restaurant located in Isehar Kazuyoshi Yoneami believes that the flowers make the dishes better: their aromas are often delicate and do not dominate on other ingredients, and the colorful petals look so attractive that dishes with flowers become the most popular in any season.
What flowers iFarm cultivated on its vertical farms and why did you do it? We have cultivated 10 edible flowers on our vertical farms such as: marigolds, carnation, matthiola, snapdragon, violet, viola, petunias, ageratum, salvia and celosia. We received an order from restaurateurs for their cultivation: it is convenient for them to purchase flowers from us together with Romano, cale, arugula and other herbs instead of finding them in flower shops. When the deliveries are guaranteed, chefs can add new dishes not worrying about ingredients.
What demand is for edible flowers in Siberia? For now it is not large and the prices are not high, but we are creating it. You can buy a package of violets or viols with 40 flowers for 300 rubles (€4,50).
What are your further plans? Are you going to cultivate these ten varieties or will grow anything else? We will continue to cultivate carnation flower, viola and violet because chefs put good order for them after tasting.
On July we will plant new flowers on our vertical farms: dwarf cornflower (we already have many orders for it from restaurateurs), other varieties of violets and violas (multi-colored, bright), rosemary and lavender. Our partners cultivates very interesting edible electric flower. We tried its aftertaste – after chewing a flower the tongue starts tingle, mouth numbs and sensitivity of the taste buds increases. These effects will allow chefs to change taste of dishes.