May is a fairly quiet time in the garden. Likewise, in May, you won’t find much in the way of berries or mushrooms to forager, and all the leafy greens have by now flowered, rendering their flavour too intense. But what you will find is flowers. Edible flowers. And lots of them. A good time indeed in England.
Now, this post is a little late (I’ve been quite busy!). So if these flowers strike your fancy, go out and look for them as soon as possible, because soon they’ll wither and brown.
If you have a garden, start your edible flower adventure there. Brassica, allium, and mint family flowers are all edible, as are those lovely pink wood sorrel flowers (oxalis articulata) I see growing in gardens everywhere. Why not combine garden flowers with some lettuce and herbs for a lovely and colorful spring salad?
Also, you may be a little shocked to learn that you can eat peony petals. Yup. Apparently, in China, people par-boil peony petals and use them as gorgeously hued vegetable. We’d tried some petals raw, and although quite tart (not unlike a rose) they had a lovely aftertaste, reminiscent of the smell of wet leaves on the ground in the Autumn.
Last year, people picked the petals before we had a chance to enjoy them. This year, I’d made a sign asking people to spare the blooms, and it mostly worked, and started many a conversation with the neighbours! Peonies can also be crystallized, which involves egg whites, lots of sugar, and a low-heat oven (look for crystallized rose petal recipes). We’re planning to try this with our own pretty peonies…
There’s a lovely guide on edible flowers. Definitely worth a perusal and a bookmark on your computer!
Up next, lilacs and elderflowers…