New York is called the Big Apple for a good reason – the apple is the only local fruit available at the farmers’ market for about four months. As Summer Solstice approaches we reflect on the bounty of Spring and how happy we are to be far out of the incredibly long Winter New York experienced.
As Spring skipped along, we watched the most wonderful series of episodes, both in the garden and the market. Daffodils made an appearance, then the tulips. The cacti man came back in full force. With the asparagus and the ramps (a local onion that features in every menu for about two weeks, then a month after, pickled) and the rhubarb and rainbow chard and strawberries and snap peas, Spring and early Summer bring edible flowers.
The marigold-yellow of Broccoli Rabe is so cheery, and the delicate, veiny white petals of Arugula flowers are magical. Spiny purple pom-poms (chive flowers) are almost too much fun.
Flowers add a punch of colour and curious texture that can’t really be found in normal foodstuffs – like dusty purples, or a velvet feel. Edible flowers are often bitter or spicy. If they aren’t carefully worked into a recipe they can throw you back to childhood – tasting a bit like accidentally eating ants on you ice-block. And, although not experienced personally, I was recently warned ‘too much of a pretty thing can lead to digestive problems’.
With this in mind, I’d flower up my salads, using Broccoli Rabe or chive flowers, and a honey dressing for a sweetness that the petals deceivingly lack. When the arugula flowers and pea flowers sprouted, Maxi and I got in the kitchen with bunches and went wild. See Maxi’s Spring Jam and Almond Crusted Tuna with Farro & Pea Flower Salad.
This summer I’ll be freezing petals into ice cubes for cocktails (done glitter already), and candying the prettiest to top a cake.