From bouquet to plate: Welcome to the delicious world of edible flowers! Many annuals, flowering herbs, and perennials produce blooms that are are safe, flavorful additions to salads, desserts, drinks, and more. Add flowers to rice spring rolls, sprinkle petals on your breakfast yogurt parfait or lunch salad, freeze blooms in ice cubes to brighten up a summer drink… Endless possibilities!
FLOWERS THAT ARE GOOD WHOLE:
Nasturtium: Often come in sunset colors and taste peppery, similar to watercress. Pickled seed pods are a great and inexpensive substitute for capers!
Borage: Beautiful cornflower blue flowers, taste faintly of cucumber. These look beautiful as an adornment for Gin and Tonics and other beverages!
Pansy: Slight, sweet green and grassy flavor. The perfect garnish for salads!
Violets and Johnny Jump-ups: Sweet, perfumed flavor. Work perfectly to freeze in ice cubes or try crystalizing them (see recipe below) for cake and dessert garnishes.
Sweet Woodruff: Not to be consumed in large amounts, but the delicate white flower has a flavor that is grassy with a hint of vanilla.
Dandelions: Flowers are sweetest when picked young. They have a sweet, honey flavor. When serving a rice dish use dandelion petals like confetti over the rice!
FLOWERS THAT ARE GOOD FOR SPRINKLING AS PETALS:
Roses: Rose petals are sweet once the bitter white portion of the petals has been removed. Garnish ice cream and delicate desserts with miniature roses and save the larger petals for salads and cakes. Taste can vary with the scent of the rose and darker petals hold more flavor.
Calendula and Marigold: These petals pack a flavorful punch! Spicy, tangy, and peppery with marigolds also being a stand-in for saffron. Pretty golden-orange petals look (and taste) wonderful on soups, rice dishes, butter, and salads. Only the petals are edible.
Pansies: Pansy petals have a mild sweet, grassy flavor. Pansies come in so many amazing colors and can liven up any fruit or veggie salad, desserts or in soups.
Dianthus/Carnations: Use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts but first cut away the bitter white base of the flower. Taste is clove or cinnamon-like. Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that has been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.
Hibiscus: Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones. Use slightly acidic but colorful petals sparingly in salads or as garnish. The whole flower can be be stuffed like a squash blossom.
COMMON HERBS AND VEGETABLES THAT PRODUCE DELICIOUS BLOOMS:
Chives: Chive blossoms, besides their beauty, have a light onion flavor and an enticing aroma. Use when you want the most delicate onion flavor in a dish.
Garlic: These flowers are white or pink and the flavor is a garlicky zing that brings out the flavor of your favorite food. Milder than the garlic bulb.
Sage: Sage blossoms are violet-blue, pink or white in small, tubelike, clustered whorls along the stem tops. Flowers have a subtler sage taste than the leaves and can be used in salads and as a garnish.
Anise Hyssop: Both flowers and leaves have a delicate licorice flavor and some say the flavor reminds them of root beer. Excellent in salads and as plate garnishes.
Lavender: This beautiful herb has a bright, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. Flowers taste good in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams. Lavender also lends itself to savory dishes like hearty stews and breads.
Arugula: Also called garden rocket, an Italian green usually eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. The flowers are small, white with dark centers and can be used in the salad for a light peppery flavor.
Squash: Squash and pumpkin blossoms are edible and taste mildly of raw squash. They are delicious stuffed with fillings and fried. Prepare the blossoms by washing and trimming the stems and remove the stamens.
Petals from roses and violets
One egg white, lightly beaten
Tiny pastry brush or small, unused paint brush
Place petals on parchment paper. Brush petals with egg white and carefully sprinkle sugar on them. Repeat on both sides of petals. Let dry completely and use them immediately or you can refrigerate the petals for up to five days.
Important notes on safety… Use caution when sourcing your flowers. If they are from your garden and you know that they haven’t been sprayed or treated then you can proceed. Gently rinse them and dry them carefully on a paper towel. When you purchase a bouquet from a florist please remember that you don’t know how the flowers were grown, fertilized, or harvested and they could be carrying residual chemicals. So sticking to your home grown blooms, or that of a friend, is probably the safest way to consume floral treats!