Nothing brightens up a yard or table like a bunch of bright, fresh flowers. But what about your dinner table? While not every flower is edible, there are actually several that can be consumed, and many that are actually quite tasty!
Of course, edible flowers are by far a new thing: the Victorians used flowers in their cooking extensively, and the trend made a firm resurgence in the 60s and 70s as well. Flowers can be scattered in salads, placed on top of cakes and desserts, used with ice cream or even frozen and placed in punch or serving glasses for a bit of added color.
So, with Spring well on its way in, I thought I’d take a minute and go over some tips for using edible flowers on your dinner table this summer!
- Be aware that not all flowers are edible, so positive identification is important. Do your research prior to eating!
- Introduce flowers into your diet gradually, especially if you have allergies
- Pick flowers in the morning, when their water content is highest
- Eat only the petals of most flowers
- Remove pistils and stamens from all flowers before eating (with the exception of pansies, violas and Johnny-jump-ups)
- Shake off bugs, wash all flowers and let air dry prior to eating
- Use only edible flowers as garnishes
- Eat flowers that have been exposed to any kind of pesticide or herbicide
- Eat flowers harvested near the road
- Eat flowers that you are allergic to
- Eat flowers that you’re not 100% positive on identification. Many flowers have lookalikes that are poisonous, like Queen Anne’s Lace vs Wild Hemlock, so be careful!
Edible Flower Examples
Here are a handful of flowers that are generally safe to consume, provided that they haven’t been in any contact with pesticides, herbicides or other harmful chemicals:
- Rose petals – flavor varies depending on type, color and soil. Sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruity to spicy
- Violas/pansies/Johnny Jump Up – good as garnish. Different varieties have different flavors, anywhere from sweet to minty to grassy
- Dandelions – in full bloom they are bitter, but the flower buds are quite sweet
- Hibiscus – cranberry-like flavor, with citrus hints
- Arugula flowers – spicy, peppery flavor that’s good in savory dishes
- Lavender – sweet floral flavor with citrus undertone
Of course, those are just a handful that I’ve eaten, and they’re quite good! For more information on additional edible flowers, check out this site, which lists botanical names with links and warnings. This site also has excellent information on a wide variety of flowers.
What other uses do you have for edible flowers? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!