Whenever someone mentioned edible flowers to me, whether as part of a dish or used as a garnish, I nodded politely and did not think much of it. I considered edible flowers to be among the items that one can only find at a store with hard-to-find specialty ingredients - ingredients that I would probably never use, let alone actually need. This week, however, I spotted bags of hibiscus flowers at Trader Joe's.
Sold alongside the other dried fruits, the hibiscus flowers are dried and lightly sweetened. Apart from their beautiful dark fuchsiacolor, they taste pretty good. Slightly sweet and chewy, like fruit leather, they have a bit of a vegetal undertone that is not present in most dried fruits. I think that they'd make an attractive garnish for cakes and even a nice, unusual addition to a spring-time salad. They are not, however, something that I would eat by the handful.
[Photo by Nicole Weston]