Have you eaten flowers before? Not everyone is brave enough to take a bite of a beautiful bloom, but once you start, it can be such fun! Edible flowers are a quick way to transform an ordinary salad into a gourmet salad, a plain meal into a fancy restaurant dish or an ordinary cupcake into an extra special dessert. Before you start nibbling from your flowerbed, here are a few important pointers.
There are an abundance of edible flowers that can be easily grown in the garden alongside your veggies. Some of our favorites in spring are johnny jump ups (anything in the viola/pansy family is edible), chive blossoms, calendula petals and Dwarf Gray sugar pea blossoms. When our overwintered cabbage family plants like kale, arugula and broccoli send up flowers, they are all delightfully tangy. Many herbs such as cilantro, oregano and dill have flowers that can be consumed and taste faintly of the mother plant. In summer, spicy nasturtium flowers and sweet blue borage flowers are great for cheering up a salad and daylily blooms can be munched plain in the garden, almost like potato chips. Later in the season, we add garlic chive florets to main dishes or salad and red pineapple sage blooms to desserts like ice cream.
Flowers that are more savory and spicy pair well with salads, appetizers like deviled eggs or to dress up a rice dish. Blossoms with a more mild flavor can accent a dessert, like borage, violas and calendula petals on cupcakes or on the top of a layer cake. Appetizers involving a cream cheese spread on crackers or stuffed mini peppers can be sprinkled with a confetti of multi color edible petals. You can even freeze your flowers into ice cubes by freezing a half full ice cube tray and then add the blooms, cover with water and freeze again. All these flowery options are great for making an extra special impact for a ladies luncheon, bridal or baby shower or a wedding reception.
If you are collecting the blooms yourself, it is important to collect from unsprayed plants and to be confident in proper plant identification since some flowers are toxic. I was always careful to teach my preschoolers to ask before eating flowers and it was common to see them munching pansies and borage right out in the garden. Collect flowers in the cool of the morning after the dew has dried and most can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for a couple days before using.
So go enjoy some summer goodies and sprinkle on some edible blooms for a treat!
Note: Not all flowers are edible. Make sure you use a trusted resource for proper plant identification before eating flowers.