Edible flowers and gelato
Flowers and gelato: a great combination!
Of course if we are talking about edible flowers.
Recent research from different universities around the world has highlighted the remarkable antioxidant power of flowers which allows to counteract the harmful effects of free radicals on the body.
In particular, the antioxidant effect would be due to the presence of anthocyanins (especially in flowers with very strong colors) or to the presence of other elements (flavonoids, carotenoids, etc) which would have anticancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic effects.
So the edible flowers are a superfood, a nutraceutical food that not only nourishes, but acts positively on the physiological functions of the organism (nutraceutics is a neologism that combines nutrition and pharmaceutical).
Therefore an alchemical food.
In gelato I use the whole flower as a decoration or I crash in thousands of pieces using the magic cold of liquid nitrogen.
There are about 50 usable flower species (not all flowers are edible, some are even poisonous); here are the ones I prefer to use in gelato:
- rose, very aromatic
- nasturtium, a little spicy
- wisteria, sweet and aromatic
- violet, brightly colored
- borago, nice and colored small flowers
I also use lavender and jasmine but just for the essence not the whole flower.
Of course, flowers don't have to be treated with chemicals in order to be used.
You can find edible flowers in specialized shops or you can grow your own flowers (The edible flower garden by Rosalind Creasy can help you in creating a beautiful edible garden).
If you grow flowers in your garden remember to pick them in the early morning; you can store in refrigerator within a plastic bag if you don't use immediately. And wash them just before using.
- Rop O, Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Neugebauerova J, Vabkova J.. Edible flowers–a new promising source of mineral elements in human nutrition. Molecules 2012, 17(6):6672-83.
- Guimarães R, Barros L, Carvalho AM, Ferreira IC.. Studies on chemical constituents and bioactivity of Rosa micrantha: an alternative antioxidants source for food, pharmaceutical, or cosmetic applications. J Agric Food Chem. 2010, 58(10):6277-84.
- Kelley, K.M.; Behe, B.K.; Biernbaum, J.A.; Poff, K.L.. Combinations of colors and species of containerized edible flowers: Effect on consumer preferences. Hortscience 2002, 37:218-221.
- Mlcek, J.; Rop, O.. Fresh edible flowers of ornamental plants—A new source of nutraceutical foods. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2011, 22:561-569.