Gilding your cheeses with summer’s edible petals not only gives them good looks, but also lends a nice little kick of flavor. And besides, it’s fun and easy to do (a bit like playing dress-up with dairy!). So go ahead, unleash your flower power. Here are a few simple guidelines to get you started.
Don’t use flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. Typically these commercial flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. Choose flowers from an organic garden or wildflowers that are grown far from any roadside toxins.
Remove the pistils and stamens from the flowers before using them. Eat only the flower petals, as they have the best flavor and generally are very digestible (in small quantities).
Embellish moist cheeses, such as goat cheese logs and crottins, or washed rinds with a slightly sticky surface. The natural moisture helps the flowers and herbs to adhere to the cheese when gently pressed. Petals and herbs will not cling well to hard or dry cheeses.
Wrap the embellished cheeses tightly in plastic and refrigerate, upside down (which helps to flatten the petals), until serving.
BEST BLOSSOMS FOR CHEESE
Carnation: slightly bittersweet flavor
Cornflower: mild sweetness with hints of clove
Marigold: spicy or tangy with peppery notes
Dandelion: honey-like flavor when picked young
Nasturium: silky with a subtle peppery taste
Violet: wonderfully sweet when young
Pansy: mild, pea-like flavor
Lavender: sweet and floral with hints of citrus
Chive: light onion aroma and flavor
Photography by Mark Ferri