Don’t limit the meaning of “edible flowers” to the buttercream blossoms used in cake decorating. Many common, simple-to-cultivate flowers are both edible and safe to grow yourself. They are parts of a landscape that may be eaten and that improve the look and taste of food. Some edible flowers may self-seed and come back year after year to beautify your garden and give a culinary touch to your meals.
But there is a very important catch. Even flowers meant for consumption might have harmful properties. The flower’s stamen and pistil are not edible, but the petals often can be. Avoid becoming sick by eating anything other than edible flower petals. In addition, the bitter base of the petal should be removed before consumption.
Flowers that have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals should never be consumed, even if they are edible in their natural condition. Either cultivate them yourself using organic methods or look for products that have been “certified organic.” If you want to try your hand at cooking with flowers, the 15 types listed below are a great place to start, as they can be used in everything from salads to desserts.
While several species of roses (including Rosa rugosa alba, R. rugosa, R. damascena, and R. gallica) are edible, the flavor of individual petals varies. Delicately sweet-tasting petals may improve drinks and preserves, and roses are treated as a form of spice in Middle Eastern cooking, expanding their uses even further. Cucumber-yogurt sauce is a common accompaniment to fried rice since it is both creamy and refreshing.
The dandelion (Taraxacum officinal) is commonly derided as a weed, although the entire plant, from the somewhat bitter greens to the not-too-sweet honey-like flavor of the young blossoms, is edible and wonderful. Dandelion petals may be added to a scone, shortbread, or cookie dough by simply popping off the dandelion’s head. Flowers dipped in tempura batter, deep-fried fast, and served with dipping sauce make for a delicious appetizer.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is a popular tropical flower used in modern drinks for its moderate citrus-cranberry flavor. Antioxidant-rich, it adds a wholesome flavor to beverages.
Raw nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) petals, which have a somewhat spicy flavor similar to mustard, are wonderful in salads, especially when combined with walnuts and beets. Guests at your next party will be impressed if you load the flowers with goat cheese because of their convenient bite-size.
The fresh, mild flavor of a violet’s petals goes well with herbs, which is why these pansy-like blossoms have made the transition from decorations to dish stars. Try combining a few snips of basil, chives, and parsley with a handful of viola (Viola spp.) petals in a food processor. Then, combine with softened cream cheese, and spread over your favorite bread for a delicious and entertaining brunch treat.
White and red clover can be used interchangeably in cooking. The vanilla-like taste of the white bloom suggests using it in sweet baked items. The tea made from red clover is beneficial because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
Instead of using sugar flowers to garnish your next cake, try using a bunch of pansies instead. Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) may be used to adorn your home if you arrange them between two sheets of natural craft paper and press them flat between the pages of a sturdy book. When dry, gently place it into a newly frosted treat.
Make excellent use of the blossoms if your garden produces an abundance of squash (Cucurbita spp.), including zucchini and pumpkin. The long, yellow blooms should be filled with herb-seasoned semi-soft cheese before being dipped in batter and fried in high oil until golden brown. If you want the batter to be extra light and airy, try adding a little seltzer water.
Although many types of marigolds may be eaten, not all of these bright and cheery garden staples have the same flavor. French marigold (Tagetes patula) and gem marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) are two types that are said to have the greatest sour taste. When used in cooking, marigolds are sometimes referred to as “the poor man’s saffron” because of the deep color they provide. Brighten up a salad with them, or use them as a filling for vegan summer rolls along with bean sprouts, julienned carrots, and sliced scallions.
Daylily (Hemerocallis spp. ) cultivars differ in taste, but they are always savory and go well with eggs and dips. The bud has a more intense flavor than the open flower, and dried buds can be used to give stews and other dishes an extra kick.
If you enjoy the smell of lavender, you might also enjoy tasting it. Sweet as its fragrance, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) should be used sparingly or it will become cloying. Surprisingly, ice cream made by steeping flower petals in cream and then straining them out before adding additional ingredients is one of its most common applications.
Amazing in scent, their season lasts far too briefly. Peony (Paeonia officinalis) jam or jelly captures the floral and sweet flavor of this medicinal plant. The petals in each flower are densely packed, so you’ll only need a small handful of flowers from your shrub to make a pot of tea and start cooking.
Tulips (Tulipa spp. ), a beloved sign of spring, may make a delicious seasonal culinary appearance. The pea- and bean-like flavor of the petals makes them a tasty addition to salads and a complement to mild cheeses.
In contrast to the powerful leaves, the light, beautiful blooms of this plant have a milder taste. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) can be used as a garnish for soups and salads with chicken.
Flowers of the genus Dianthus caryophyllus, commonly known as pinks or carnations, are a favorite low-growing ground cover due to their wide range of available hues. The blooms, which have a sweet clove taste, are a great addition to sorbets, salads, and other cold dishes. It’s important to remember to peel away the bitter base of the petal before using it.
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