Recent trends in the edible flower chain: First results of the ANTEA project
Copetta A1, Marchioni l1,2, Pistelli La2, Mascarello C1, Dimita R3, Deschampe S3, Ruffoni B1
1 CREA – Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Italy
2 University of Pisa, Italy
3 CREAM, Chambre d'agriculture, France
In recent years, many small and medium-sized companies have been focusing their attention on the production of flowers for the food market. Edible flowers are mainly used as dishes garnishment, such as cowslip and violet, and worldwide edible flowers demand is increasing. However, in addition to a decorative value, some flowers have a characteristic taste and can be used both in traditional and innovative cooking. The rediscovery of edible flowers and the growing interest for them is also due to nutraceutical and antimicrobial compounds. Interreg Alcotra ANTEA (n. 1336) is a project dealing with the development of edible flower chain, the study of their chemical and organoleptic characteristics, and their production with biological and sustainable methods. Moreover, it is important to select suitable packaging solution for increasing their shelf life in view of developing a proper production chain. Dissemination of these results to consumers and restaurateurs is essential for the same purpose. Indeed, the ensuring food safety will help to expand their use by much more restaurateurs, and they will have a constant supply of flowers with high quality. We have selected numerous edible species with different color of flowers and taste for food purposes. Among these species Acmella oleracea (electric taste); various varieties of Agastache spp. with different flavors like anise (A. mexicana “Sangria”), lemon (A. aurantiaca “Sunset Yellow”), licorice (A. foeniculum “Blue Boa”), mint (A. hybrida “Arcado”); Begonia semperflorens (acid taste); Crocus sativus; Dahlia spp.; Fuchsia regia; Hemerocallis spp.; Hibiscus sabdariffa, Mertensia maritima (oyster taste); Monarda dydima “Fire Ball” (oregano taste); Nepeta x faassenii; various varieties of Ocimum basilicum with different flavors: cinnamon (O. basilicum “Canella”), lemon (O. basilicum “Citriodorum”), spice (O. basilicum “Spice”); Pelargonium odoratum “Lemon”; Polianthes tuberosa; Rosa spp.; several species of the Salvia genus including S. discolor (red currant and pine nut taste), S. dorisiana (peach and apricot taste), S. elegans (pineapple taste), S. greggii, S. jamensis; Tagetes lemmonii (lemon taste); Trapeolum majus (spicy radish); Tulbaghia cominsii (garlic butter taste); Tulbaghia simmlerii (garlic asparagus taste); Tulbaghia violacea (garlic taste); Verbena bonariensis; have been propagated in vivo (seeds or cuttings). The varieties like Agastache spp or M. maritima, and bulbous species (P. tuberosa and Tulbaghia species) have been propagated also in vitro, due their recalcitrant propagation by cutting. The varieties were evaluated for content of anthocyanins, polyphenols and flavonoids in their flowers; and the antioxidant activity of flower extracts (DPPH assay).
Audience Take Away: Edible flowers, taste, in vitro and in vivo culture, biochemical analysis
Inform the public about edible flowers which, in addition to their intrinsic decorative value, may have important food and nutritional characteristics defined to be enhanced. The edible flower chain brings with it the added value of being a productive activity that is born linked to organic and sustainable cultivation and is therefore an economic activity that does not affect environmental costs. Furthermore, in order to strengthen the emerging supply chain, technological and communication innovations have been applied which guarantee fluidity, usability, immediacy, visibility in the relationship between producer and consumer.
Andrea Copetta graduated in 2001 in Biological Sciences and Doctorate in Environmental Sciences in 2006; from 1/1/2019 he became a researcher at the CREA - Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops of Sanremo. Dr. Copetta is developing and optimizing in vitro culture methods: 1) multiplying floricultural and aromatic plants by somatic embryogenesis; 2) to obtain double-haploid and diploid androgenic plants for the breeding of floral species. Furthermore, he studied how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and rhizosphere bacteria interact synergistically to improve the development and quality of horticultural and aromatic plants.