While edible flowers have grown in popularity the last few years, they have been around for centuries. In a previous blog post, we noted how they were used in cooking in different geographies and periods of history. Today people are using edible flowers in their food for some fun, beautiful presentation, and flavor. You will find them in drinks, salads, soups, cakes, and other desserts.
As many people are looking for different things to do now, why not try growing some edible flowers. Edible flowers can be a source of beneficial compounds, including antioxidants. The dark colorful flowers have a potentially greater concentration of these compounds. Before you get started here are some dos and don’ts of edible flowers:
- Learn the parts of the flowers that are edible. For example, the entire colorful petal of a marigold is edible, but not the end or base of the flower.
- Taste them before you add them to your food. Some edible flowers are an acquired taste.
- Test them in the food you are serving. If you are going to add them to a salad make sure they do not wilt or turn brown with vinegar (the base of some salad dressing). If that is the case, you might want to add them at the last minute.
- Use organic seeds and grow them in organic soil. Grow them in containers or a small raised bed.
- Store them in a refrigerator in a plastic container or zip-lock bag. Make sure to place them in a location where you will not crush them.
- Harvest the flowers early in the morning before the sun is out and the air is cool. Select flowers that are fully open as they have the best scent and flavor. Make sure they are fully dry before refrigerating them.
- Don’t pick them until you are going to use them. They do not last that long and could wilt and mold fairly quickly. A great reason to grow them on your own is so you can snip them off when you are going to use them.
- Don’t eat edible flowers that you gather off a roadside. You don’t know if they have been treated with chemicals (pesticides or fungicides). Grow them at home or buy them commercially.
- Don’t forget to wash the flowers before you serve them. Dip them in room temperature water and let them dry on a paper towel.
- Don’t serve them to people without telling them. People could have allergies and some of these flowers have pollen.
Here are five edible flowers you might want to try growing:
Borage – this flower is so pretty with its attractive sky-blue flowers. Borage has a cucumber flavor. Try adding it to fruit or green salads or adding it to lemonade or gin drinks. You can also freeze it in ice cubes.
Calendula – this plant is edible and also has medicinal benefits. The petals can be used to make salves and dyes. Depending on the flower variety it has a tangy to peppery taste. Try using the petals in rice, soup, and egg dishes.
Lavender – this plant is known for its wonderful fragrance and it is also edible. It has a sweet flavor that enhances desserts such as cakes, muffins, and custards. Adding a spike of lavender to white wine or champagne adds a bit of flavor and a pretty scent.
Nasturtiums - the flowers and leaves of this plant are edible. The flowers have a peppery taste and the leaves are similar to watercress. This plant is very easy to grow and will add bright colors to a salad.
Yarrow – the entire plant is edible. Yarrow has a licorice-like scent and a mildly sweet flavor similar to tarragon. The flowers and leaves can be used in salads, soups, and stews. Try adding yarrow to vinaigrette for a lovely salad dressing or add it to sorbet and fresh fruit salads. You can also dry the flowers and leaves as a spice.
Let us know if you have any favorite edible flowers!