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Are any spring flowers worth eating?

Hugh Wennerbom

Hugh Wennerbom

With all those borage flowers and violets everywhere, it's easy to forget that the artichoke is in some ways the ultimate edible flower.

I like to let the crown flower prickly purple and harvest the tender baby side shoots for cooking. Rosemary also throws a flurry of purple flowers in spring (and again in autumn); they've got a fragrant sweetness that makes them great for dressing charcuterie plates (wild boar terrine and Pino Tomini Foresti's salumi, say).

The wild plums and cherry trees are in full bloom and stand out like fairy floss. I'm determined to make Japanese-style salted cherry blossoms. Like capers, they add a salty earthiness to a dish; better than capers they also add fragrance and colour. Rinsed and fried they're a great garnish for fish and carpaccio. They're also good ground in a mortar and pestle with sea salt to make a funky, flavoured salt.

I'm also mad for the tendrils of peas at this time of year. Dry-fry fresh-picked snow peas, season and lube, then add chopped green garlic and a handful of snow pea shoots, then a splash of white wine to hiss, steam and finish the dish.

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