Agua de jamaica, a refreshing beverage prepared with dried hibiscus flowers, can be found just about anywhere in Mexico. But it is far from being the only edible flower in the country! Gourmet restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are increasingly adding other flowers to their menus, not only for decoration but also for their unique flavor.
For example, delicate white and blue starflowers can infuse a mild cucumber flavor in salads and cold soups and can be even frozen in ice cubes for a decorative touch in lemonades and punches. Frequently used to make ointments and extracts, marigolds taste like saffron and can be safely added to all sorts of dishes. Both the stems and the flowers in garden cress are edible and, aside from giving salads a peppery flavor, contain more vitamin C than lettuce.
Other edible flowers include roses, giving dishes a sensual touch, and squash blossoms, which, aside from their high calcium and phosphorus content, are quite delicious when steamed, used in stews or even in quesadillas. Next time you make agua de jamaica from scratch at home, don’t throw away the flowers. Instead, sauté them with chopped garlic, onion and green tomatoes. Once seasoned with salt and pepper, they become a savory taco filling!