JP McMahon: Many men do not like flowers with their food
But I love them in everything from salads to ice cream, and for making vinegar
Wild flowers have begun to emerge. Try incorporating them into your meals. Photograph: iStock
Many men do not like flowers with their food. I’m not sure if it’s a femininity offensive to my male counterparts, but whatever it is, their disgust is real.
I on the other hand love flowers in my food. It’s only in the last few weeks that all the wild flowers have begun emerging. Dandelion is probably the most noticeable. Did you know all dandelions are edible? Bitter stem and leaves, yes but the the flowers are a wonderful garnish for salads and desserts. Indeed, if you pick a few choice leaves and combine them with baby gem which are just coming into season, you can make a nice balanced salad.
To use the flowers, pluck them off and shake in your two hands, then let fall where they may. Try them on top of an iced carrot cake. Other flowers that I see everywhere are cherry blossoms and rapeseed.
The Japanese make vinegar with cherry blossom flowers and also use their buds as a salted garnish for fish. I made vinegar recently with them. Pick the small ones and a few of their buds and infuse into a vinegar solution (three parts vinegar, two parts water and one part sugar or honey). Bring to the boil and then cool and bottle. Allow to mature for three months.
The yellow rapeseed flowers are everywhere, scattered over disused land. They’re part of the cabbage family so they taste a little mustardy on the tongue. I like serving them with white fish, like cod or monkfish. They’re also nice for your house, because they grow so high. Why buy flowers when you can pick these (weeds!) for free.
Woodruff and chickweed flowers (which share a resemblance) are just emerging too. Keep an eye out for them. These little white flowers are some of my favourites. Woodruff flowers over ice-cream, chickweed flowers with beef.
From now until August, all the wild flowers will be up. Check out the Irish Wild Flowers website to help you identify them. While you don’t have to wear flowers in your hair (or your beard), there are plenty you can add to your food.