Delicious & Flavorful Edible Flowers
What could be more special than having a garden full of beautiful blossoms? How about a plate full of them too?
With careful ID, flowers can add some color & flavor to your palate! These attractive blooms do not have to take a backseat when it comes to fun & delicious dishes. In fact, traditionally, edible flowers have been used in many cuisines worldwide dating back as far as the Victorian era.
You can add edible flowers (i.e. fruit, herb, or vegetable flowers) to a salad, candy them for desserts, stuff them, add them to a stir-fry or fry them in a batter. You can also use flowers to make teas, wines, jams, jellies, butters, marinades, vinegars, etc. Your possibilities are endless and your floral dishes will be sure to start up the conversation with your dinner guests!
Many edible flowers will grow happily from seed, not only in your garden but also in containers. Before planting, make sure to check with your local Poison Control Center to ensure that the variety that you have chosen is non-toxic. Consult your local garden center for suggestions on soil enrichment and plant foods that are specific to growing food that you plan to consume. Your very own compost pile would be an excellent source of soil amendments for your edible flowers!
Make sure to give your flowers plenty of water and if pests are a problem, ladybugs are a great/safe solution to your insect woes. As your seeds begin to germinate, don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of the edible garden that you have created!
When harvesting your flowers, removing the pistil and stamen is highly recommended due to the fact that pollen can change the flavor of the flower and may cause allergic reactions. Flowers should be picked at their peak to ensure maximum flavor and preferably in the coolest part of the day after the morning dew has evaporated. Many short-stem varieties will need to be used within hours of harvest but can be stored in between damp paper towels in your refrigerator in the meantime. Long-stem varieties can be placed in water to extend their freshness and stored in the refrigerator as well.
Be sure to invite friends and family to be a part of your creative and fun floral recipes!
Here are some guidelines for choosing edible flowers:
* Never eat flowers that may have been exposed to pesticides or any other chemicals. (i.e. flowers from garden centers, florists, roadsides, etc.)
* Many flowers are poisonous! Only eat flowers that you have carefully identified as safe edible flowers. (Note: Not all parts of edible flowers are edible!)
* Eat flowers in moderation as some may cause digestive issues if eaten in large quantities.
Below are some fun & informative edible flower links:
Here are 8 of our favorite edible flowers:
Often called Star Flower and is an herb that has been in use since ancient Greece. The blossoms and leaves are both edible and have a pleasant, cucumber-like flavor. The flowers are great for salads, soups, sandwiches, and drinks! We love using borage flowers in a classic Pimm’s Cup Cocktail or just infused in water with lemon!
This classic, sweet-scented, edible flower is excellent in sweet and savory dishes. When roasting meats, replace the rosemary with lavender to give your dish a slight floral aroma. You can also add it to any dessert to create an elegant twist on classic dishes. Try the Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake or use it in jams to create layers of flavor! Unless you are using it as a garnish, we recommend that you transform it by either infusing it into a liquid, such as syrup or grinding it into a sugar mixture so your food doesn’t have an unpleasant texture from the fibrous elements of the plant.
Make sure you are using English Lavender, French and ornamental lavenders can have unpleasant flavors and higher levels of camphor, which can make you sick in large quantities. Also, unless you are growing it yourself, make sure it is labeled as ‘culinary lavender” to make sure there are no unwanted additives or toxins.
3. Squash Blossoms
These classic, summer, edible flowers can be enjoyed into early fall, depending on how well your squashes are doing. Tender and delicate, these beautiful orange blossoms taste mildly like the squash they will produce. If you are growing them yourself, make sure to only harvest the male blossoms. Leave all the female blossoms to grow into squashes. Here is a guide for how to tell the difference. Use these stuffed, fried, or atop pizza and frittatas!
Much more delicate than the leafy parts of the plant, sage blossoms can add a light, savory element to your dish. Usually too delicate to hold up to much cooking, sage blossoms do best when used raw. Garnish your dish with them or use them in a sage blossom pesto to highlight their flavor.
Like most alliums (onion, garlic, leeks, etc.), chive blossoms can add an intense oniony flavor to any dish. While they can be used the same as the green parts of the chive plant, we love to infuse them into rice vinegar to create beautiful, pink onion vinegar!
Rose petals are a classic way to add beauty and floral elements to a dish. Unlike a lot of blossoms, roses can hold up to strong flavors such as cinnamon, coriander, and turmeric as well as more clean flavors like apple and cucumber. We love using rose petals to make the classic Indian beverage, Rose Milk.
7. Bee Balm (Monarda)
This wildflower is a member of the mint family native to North America. The leaves and petals are both edible and have a flavor that is a mix between peppermint, sage, and oregano. The leaves can be dried and used to make an herbal tea that tastes similar to Earl Grey or the leaves and petals can be used fresh in a salad to add a bright, fresh element.
8. Calendula (Pot Marigold)
These beautiful, yellow, edible flowers are excellent fresh and can range in flavor from peppery, tangy, bitter, and spicy. Most closely resembling the flavor of saffron, the petals can be used fresh to add a bit of life to soups, eggs, and spreads. Use the petals ground with sugar to make naturally colored decorating sugar! Here is a delicious recipe for calendula and thyme shortbread cookies.