The Edible Flower Garden – Petal to Plate

Edible flowers are frequently for sale at farmer’s markets but most people are hesitant to take the plunge and actually eat them.

Variety of edible flowers from the garden

Garnishes – yes, but actually eating flowers??? For most people that is a different story. But flowers can add a lot to the flavor as well as  appeal of a dish.  Go to Squash Blossom Recipes  to see what you can do with squash blossoms.  In researching this post, I discovered that dahlias, one of my favorites, is also edible-even the tubers!

Collecting edible blossoms during the summer-rose, cornflower, marigolds, borage

Growing Your Own

Always be careful of buying edible flowers in a plant nursery as they might have been treated with pesticides or fungicides. Because of this, I recommend that you grow your own from seed so you know exactly where they are coming from. Don’t yank that Arugula out once it bolts to flowers!  Use the flowers. Let your basil go to flower and use them as well. Flowering culinary sage is a good source of edibles.

Browse your flower garden for edibles-catmint, the lavender flower, has edible flowers and leaves
Cardinal Basil flowers are beautiful

What Do They Add?

Edible flowers definitely add taste and flavor to a dish.  Bean blossoms actually have a beany flavor.  Nasturtiums, one of my favorites, have a peppery flavor similar to watercress, and their pickled buds can be substituted for more expensive capers. True blue borage tastes like cucumber, and  pansies have a lettuce like taste. For a crisp butter crunch lettuce taste, try daylilies. Maybe that is why deer like daylilies so much. And did you know that blue cornflowers are an ingredient in Lady Grey tea?

Collecting edible blossoms from the garden
Collecting edible blossoms from the garden

From Sugarandcharm.com

List of Edible Plants

  • Angelica
  • Anise Hyssop-flowers and foliage
  • Apple Blossom
  • Arugula-flowers and foliage
  • Bachelor’s Button
  • Basil-foliage and flowers
  • Bee Balm-foliage and flowers
  • Calendula/Marigold
  • Camellia
  • Carnations
  • Chamomile
  • Chervil
  • Chicory
  • Chives-foliage and flowers
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clover
  • Coriander Flowers-foliage and flowers
  • Dahlia
  • Dandelion-foliage and flowers
  • Dianthus
  • Elderflower
  • Fuchsia
  • Gladiolus
  • Hibiscus
  • Impatiens
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lilac
  • Linden
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium-foliage and flowers
  • Pansy
  • Radish-foliage and flowers
  • Rose
  • Sage-foliage and flowers
  • Scented Geraniums-foliage and flowers
  • Squash
  • Viola
Borage is one of my favorite herbs for garnishing and easy to grow from seed

Poisonous flowers abound in your garden-Please check and identify all the flowers you are using!

Edible blossoms-borage, nasturtium and chives, pansy, gladiolus, cardinal basil, daylily, pansy
Edible blossoms-borage, nasturtium and chives, pansy, gladiolus, cardinal basil, daylily, pansy

Garnishes

Borage flowers decorate this gorgeous cake
Chive blossoms are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators

 

I pick chive blossoms and soak them in white vinegar for a few weeks to get this gorgeous pink vinegar

Edible flowers as a garnish make any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavor of the flower compliments the dish. Here are a few ideas to beautify your recipes and perk up your taste buds:

  • Place a colorful gladiolus or hibiscus flower (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favorite dip.
  • Sprinkle edible flowers in your green  and fruit salads for a splash of color and taste.
  • Make edible flower ice cubes: just place small flowers in water in trays and freeze
  • Use in flavored oils or vinegars, like chive blossoms in vinegar which gives it a pretty pink  blush color.
  • You can use them in salads, teas, garnishes, ice creams, etc. Lavender ice cream anyone?? It is delicious!

    The ultimate edible flower-lavender
    The ultimate edible flower-lavender
  • Try crystallizing your flowers with egg white and sugar for longer lasting decorations for cakes and desserts. Go to Lovely Greens to see how this is done
  • After picking your flowers, wash or spritz them with water and roll in a paper towel and keep in the refrigerator for a few days
Borage, viola, and nasturtium blossoms

Other Uses

For a great recipe on violet lemonade, go to Star Bright Farm. 

Viola lemonade-gathering your flowers; Picture from Star Bright Farm

And here is a recipe for Radish Chive Blossom Tartine and Lavender and Lemon Sugar Cookies.

Radish and Chive Blossom Tartine, photo from Star Bright Farm
Lavender and Lemon Sugar Cookies, photo from Star Bright Farm
Sugar cookies with edible flowers on top-seen at a expensive boutique in Paris

2 Replies to “The Edible Flower Garden – Petal to Plate”

  1. Thank you for this interesting and valuable information. Adding flowers and edible wild plants to our diets gives us phytonutrients which have health benefits beyond what we get from the usual vegetables we eat every day.

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