Ever given edible flowers a nibble or a sip? Not just meant for beautiful bouquets, some special flowers can be enjoyed in your cooking and garnishing. Give citrus blossoms, clover, daisies, dandelions, hibiscus, honeysuckle, lavender, lilac, mums, nasturtium, pansies, roses, sunflowers, and violets, among others, a try! Carnations, lilacs, and roses all smell lovely and are also edible. Brew, sip, and savor tea made with jasmine, rose, blue cornflower, marigold, hibiscus, or lavender flowers. If you’re a fan of the floral, you’ll love learning more about these edible flowers and what to do with them this summer.
But remember that not all flowers are edible! Some are actually quite poisonous, so double check before enjoying flowers in dishes and drinks. Here are some beauties NOT to ingest: azaleas, wisteria, daffodils, buttercups, and delphinium.
BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS TO EAT AND SIP
Roses – Known as the queen of flowers, roses add beauty to many foods and beverages. While their scent is more floral, their taste can lean towards slightly sweet and fruity. Try adding pink rose buds and petals to your teas, salads, and desserts. A word to the wise: while all varieties of roses are edible, stick with those that are homegrown and forgo florist roses grown with lots of chemicals. Enjoy those as visual treats instead.
Lavender – One of the most versatile and fragrant of the edible flowers! Lavender may smell like perfume, but it can also complement desserts (shortbread cookies, pound cake, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake) and beverages (teas, coffee, cocktails, and mocktails). My latest discovery: lovely lavender in ground coffee combined with honey or orange flavor extract. Totally gourmet!
Hibiscus – This ruby-colored beauty is tart, tangy, and rich in antioxidants, and vitamin C. Hibiscus tastes a bit sour like cranberries and is a similar shade. It’s delicious as a tea (try combining hibiscus with lavender and mint) and in mixed drinks (cocktails and mocktails). Decorate your bubbly by dropping the whole flower in your glass and watch it bloom in your beautiful beverage.
Calendula – Marigold, the shade of a sunset, has a saffron-like taste when sautéed in olive oil and is especially tasty with eggs. Try marigold in omelets, quiche, or devilled eggs.
Nasturtiums – These beautiful, vibrant, boldly colored blooms are the colors of a sunset – red, orange, pink, and yellow. They have a slightly peppery taste, similar to watercress. They are loaded with vitamin C and add plenty of color and character to your dishes. Tuck nasturtiums into salads, blend with softened butter, freeze in water to beautify ice cubes, and try a nasturtium vinaigrette. Nasturtiums can be cooked like spinach and included in a stir-fry.
Zucchini Blossoms – Another edible part of the zucchini plant, these blossoms have a subtly sweet flavor and are terrific in Italian dishes. Care for some petals on your pizza? How about with pesto? They are also good with goat cheese and fresh herbs. Try sautéing them with eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and minced garlic.
Violets – These beautiful bluish-purple flowers have a sweet, floral taste and can be candied or added as is to garnish your fav desserts (cheesecake, lemon bars, and chocolate mousse). Yum!
Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups – Pansies have a mild grassy, herbaceous flavor, and Johnny Jump Ups are a bit reminiscent of wintergreen. They work well atop fruit salads or as a beautiful garnish for cold beverages. Want to delight your guests with some flower-garnished hors d’ouevres? Spread a cracker with cream cheese and top it with a pansy or Johnny Jump Up. Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups make desserts especially exquisite. Add them as a garnish to ice cream, gelato, or sorbet, along with a sprig or two of fresh mint.
EDIBLE FLOWERS – TIPS AND TIDBITS
While you can order some of your edible blooms online, it’s best to grow them yourself. Avoid chemicals and pesticides and opt instead for natural solutions to boost your edible flowers and keep them pest-free and healthy.
The best time to harvest them is in the cool of the morning. Remove the pistils and stamen and rinse the petals carefully as you would any produce.
Enjoy your elegant edible flowers!