2 Mar 2018

Edible flower trade coming up roses

From Country Life, 9:24 pm on 2 March 2018

Demand for edible flowers is soaring.

Chefs and keen home cooks want them, as do customers in Hong Kong who buy punnets of Tamsin Wilson's carefully picked flowers airfreighted twice a week.

Wilson grows the edible flowers in beds in a paddock at Patumahoe south of Auckland.

She acknowledges not everyone likes the idea of popping petals or a bloom in their mouth - such as a guest on a garden tour.

"We had an amazing 90-year-old lady who walked around the garden and her companion said to me that in the car she told her that she thought that 'God had put flowers on this earth to be admired and they should never be eaten.'

"But she was polite while she was here," she says with a grin.

Wilson prefers eating petals rather than an entire flower.

Some taste like honey and others of citrus, she says.

She also grows plants, shrubs and weeds for their edible leaves. The leaves are chosen for their texture, their unusual flavours and because they look good on a plate.

"There are so many ways you can eat plants," Wilson says.

"There's just a whole world of flavours that we haven't really explored when we go and we buy lettuce and cabbage and tomatoes and quite a narrow range of vegetables from the supermarket.

"But there are all sorts of things out there like chickweed and swine-cress that just make life more interesting; just different flavours for us to enjoy."