Strange, I don’t like growing flowers, but I like using them in food. This summer I’ve been experimenting with lavender. It has a hint of spiciness that reminds me of anise and the aroma is more soothing than floral.

But where do you find supplies of dried, edible flowers? It took me awhile but I found plenty of dried flowers available in bulk at a local grocers, Mustard Seed Market. The flowers were intended for make-it-yourself tea, but I saw other possibilities…

I’ve been mixing lavender in with fresh strawberries or peaches, but when I ran across Flower Pepper at Trader Joe’s I started understanding the savory potential of lavender. Now doing a little online digging I found that apparently there’s a Chinese spice called Sichuan, or flower pepper, that’s added to dishes in various forms and has the effect of numbing your tongue. Never tried that, but it sounds interesting. It’s neither a pepper, a flower or even a chile pepper. And this isn’t the kind of pepper I’m making here. Instead, I’m suggesting adding some zing to the sometimes underwhelming tabletop pepper. Yeah, see where I’m going?

The best part–you don’t need to buy flower pepper, you can make your own variety using whatever dried flowers catch your interest. The Trader Joe’s mix includes lavender, rose, calendula, and cornflower petals. The mix is 1:4 flowers to peppercorns. So far, I’ve used the flower pepper to marinate pork cutlets, but I can see how it would add interest to lean meats like tilapia and other white fish. To do this at home, simply place peppercorns into the grinder along with your selection of flowers. I’ve just started fiddling with pepper, I’m thinking of what dried Mexican jicama flowers might do to enliven enchilada sauce. Hmmm….

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