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Pansies – All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce

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Jul 21, 2021

What are pansies?

Pansies are the cool-weather flower with a face. They come in various colors, including white, yellow, orange, gold, red, purple, and more. The flower grows to around 2-3in in diameter and up to 9in in height, with 2 overlapping upper petals, two side petals, and a single bottom petal with a beard.
The name “pansy” is based on the French word pensée, which means “thought,” and the pansy has long been considered a symbol of remembrance.
Besides being beautiful to look at in the garden or in an indoor arrangement, pansies can add a touch of elegance and color to various food dishes. Pansy petals have a slightly grassy taste. The greens have wintergreen overtones. Together, they work well in herb-flavored cocktails and fruit salads. Or they can be used simply as decoration, without fear of contaminating your food with any harmful ingredients.

Where did pansies originate?

Flowers used in food dates back to Roman times and a range of cultures. Using them to decorate food was quite fashionable in the Victorian era and has made a comeback today.

Originally a wildflower seen as a weed, the pansy came into popularity in the early 19th century. Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet, daughter of the Earl of Tankerville, worked with her gardener to cross-breed and cultivate the pansy. In 1812, the pansy was introduced to the world. The following year, a group of horticulturists cultivated them even more. By 1833, there were more than 400 varieties of pansies, including bi-color, tri-color, hanging versions, and flowers with new, showier faces.

How do pansies grow?

Pansies grow well in sun or partial sun with well-draining soil, although they don’t tolerate prolonged or high heat well. In hot, muggy weather, they can rot and die. They’re perennial but don’t bear flowers until the following year. However, they’re hardy enough to tolerate winter and can survive a light freeze and short periods of snow. Some varieties are planted in fall and can bloom during winter. Pansies grow best in moderate temperatures with equal parts rain and sun.

What is the nutritional value of pansies?

It may be hard to believe, but pansies have different nutritional values based on their color. White and yellow pansies contain the highest protein content. Red pansies have the highest carbohydrate content. Pansies have also been known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

When are pansies in season?

Different pansies have different growing periods, but traditionally, they bloom from spring to summer. However, the flower dies back when it gets too hot. In warmer climates, they can grow from fall to winter. New breeds are being cultivated that can survive freezing temperatures in winter and rebloom the following spring.

How to shop for pansies

Only use edible versions of pansies that are grown specifically for consumption and don’t contain pesticides. Look for at least one of these words on the label indicating the flowers are safe to eat:

  • Food grade
  • Organic
  • Edible

Use this information to share with your Instacart partner. Then, simply add the pansies to your cart and add your preferences in the comments section.

How to store pansies

If you’re using pansies to decorate a cake or as a garnish, you’ll want them to be as fresh as possible. You can store them in the refrigerator for a day or two, but the longer you wait to use them, the higher the chance of them becoming discolored or wilted. If you need to store them, put them in a plastic or glass container lined with a paper towel.

How to tell if pansies are bad

Pansies will wilt and dry up quickly, especially if not stored properly. When shopping for them at the store, check the “best by” date and look for the freshest flowers you can find. If you’re shopping on Instacart, simply add the pansies to your cart and let your shopper know in the comments section to look for the best date.

If you are looking to have your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for pansies via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for pansies.

How to decorate with pansies

Press the individual flowers into your cake, scatter them like confetti, make a rainbow of multicolored pansies, or consider sugaring the petals. Sugaring gives them a bolder flavor and a sugary crunch. Just begin the process a day or two ahead of time so they can fully dry.

What can I substitute for pansies?

There’s a wide range of edible flowers you can find in your garden or a specialty market. Not every flower can be safely eaten., especially if you don’t know if it’s been treated with pesticides. Consult with a medical or plant expert before eating any flower you’ve picked yourself. Here are some flowers you can use if pansies are unavailable or out of season:

  • Begonia
  • Carnation
  • Dahlia
  • Dianthus
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Marigold
  • Orchid
  • Mum
  • Rose

There’s also a range of herb and vegetable blossoms that make a pretty plate. But keep in mind you should avoid using these types of flowers on desserts as they’ll impart a savory flavor that wouldn’t complement the sweet flavor of your dessert.

  • Arugula blossom
  • Basil blossom
  • Chive blossom
  • Cilantro blossom
  • Mustard flower
  • Squash blossom
  • Thyme blossom

How to use pansies

Besides using pansies to decorate a sweet treat, you can also use them in savory dishes. Bring color to your menu with edible flowers year-round. Try incorporating them as a garnish to a dish, or add them to a fresh green salad for a hint of minty flavor.

When you’re ready to look for pansies for your next dish, Instacart is here to help. Get same-day pickup or delivery straight to your door. Shop for edible pansies today to enjoy stamen, pistil, and sepals (the tiny leaves under the flower) in your cooking.

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