Did you know that besides nasturtium blossoms and rose petals, there are many other flowers you can eat and enjoy? People have been using flowers in cooking for thousands of years, from ancient Chinese, and Greek, to Roman times.
Different cultures have their own ways of incorporating flowers into traditional dishes; like Italians using squash blossoms and Indians adding rose petals to their food. Adding flowers to your meals not only brings colour but also adds unique flavours and a touch of fun. Some flowers taste spicy, some have an herbal flavour, and others are fragrant and floral.
It’s surprising how many options there are to explore! So next time you’re in the kitchen, why not try experimenting with some edible flowers? Who knows, you might discover a new favourite ingredient! Elevate your culinary experiences by experimenting with this diverse and colourful palette.
Using Edible Flowers in Your Kitchen
Edible flowers can be more than just a decorative touch; they can add a burst of flavour and creativity to your meals. Instead of just tossing flower petals into salads or teas, consider rolling spicy varieties, such as chive blossoms, into homemade pasta dough. Get inventive by incorporating floral blooms into your ice cream or pickling flower buds, like nasturtium, to create a unique substitute for capers. Try making a floral simple syrup from these blossoms to enhance the taste of lemonade or cocktails.
The possibilities are endless; you can even stuff flowers like gladiolus, following a recipe similar to stuffed squash blossoms. The results can be surprisingly delicious. Whether you’re looking to experiment with new flavours or add an artistic touch to your dishes, edible flowers offer a range of exciting options for culinary exploration.
Also Read: 7 Fruits You Think Are Vegetables
40 Flowers You Can Eat
- Allium Family Flowers: Flowers from the allium family, like leeks, chives, garlic, and garlic chives, are not only edible but also tasty! They come in various flavours, from mild leek to strong garlic. You can eat every part of these plants.
- Radish Flowers: Radish flowers come in different colours and have a unique, peppery taste.
- Angelica Flowers: Depending on the type, angelica flowers can be light lavender-blue or deep rose in colour. They taste similar to liquorice.
- Anise Hyssop: Both the flowers and leaves of anise hyssop have a subtle taste of anise or licorice.
- Arugula Flowers: Arugula flowers are small, with dark centres and a peppery flavour like the leaves. They can be white, yellow, or have dark purple streaks.
- Bachelor’s Button: The petals of bachelor’s button flowers are edible and have a grassy flavor. Just avoid eating the bitter calyx.
- Basil Blossoms: These beautiful flowers display a range of colours, from white and pink to lavender. Their taste resembles that of basil leaves but is gentler.
- Bee Balm: The red blossoms carry a refreshing minty flavour, providing a unique twist to your culinary adventures.
- Borage: Featuring charming blue blossoms, borage flowers bring a cucumber-like taste, offering a delightful addition to your dishes.
- Calendula/Marigold: A fantastic choice for culinary use, calendula blossoms bring a peppery, tangy, and spicy kick. Their vivid golden hue adds a burst of colour to any meal.
- Carnations/Dianthus: The petals of these flowers carry a natural sweetness once separated from the base. Indulge in the blossoms’ taste, which mirrors their sweet and fragrant aroma.
- Rose: Remove the bitter white base from roses, and the remaining petals offer a strongly perfumed flavour, great for floating in drinks or sprinkling over desserts. All roses are edible, and darker varieties have a more pronounced taste.
- Rosemary: The flowers of rosemary have a milder version of the herb’s flavour. They make a nice garnish for dishes that include rosemary.
- Sage: Sage blossoms have a subtle flavour similar to the leaves.
- Squash and Pumpkin Blossoms: Both squash and pumpkin blossoms are excellent for stuffing, each carrying a slight squash flavour. Remember to remove the stamens before using.
- Chervil: Delicate blossoms with an anise-like flavor.
- Chicory: The petals and buds of chicory offer a mildly bitter earthy taste and can be pickled.
- Chrysanthemum: Mums, available in various colours, have a slightly bitter taste ranging from peppery to pungent. Only the petals are used.
- Cilantro: Whether you love or hate the blossoms, they share the grassy flavour of the herb. It’s best to use them fresh, as their charm diminishes when heated.
- Citrus Flowers (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat): Citrus blossoms have a sweet and strong scent. Use them sparingly, or they might make your dish too fragrant.
- Clover: Clover flowers are sweet with a touch of liquorice flavour.
- Dandelion: Dandelion flowers add a unique taste to dishes.
- Dill: The yellow dill flowers have a flavour similar to the herb’s leaves.
- English Daisy: While not the most delicious petals, English daisy petals have a somewhat bitter taste. However, they add a delightful visual appeal to your food!
- Fennel: Enjoy the visual treat of yellow fennel flowers with a subtle liquorice taste, mirroring the herb itself.
- Fuchsia: Tangy fuchsia flowers add a beautiful touch as a garnish to your dishes.
- Gladiolus Surprise: Surprisingly, gladioli may be bland, but they can be stuffed or have their petals removed for an interesting addition to salads.
- Hibiscus Wonder: Widely known for hibiscus tea, the vibrant cranberry flavour is tart and should be used sparingly.
- Hollyhock Elegance: Despite their bland and vegetal taste, hollyhock blossoms bring a showy and edible flair to your garnishes.
- Impatiens: These flowers don’t have a strong taste but work well as a beautiful decoration or for making candied treats.
- Jasmine: Known for their intense fragrance, these blooms are commonly used in tea. They can also enhance the sweetness of desserts, but a little goes a long way.
- Johnny Jump-Up: Cute and tasty, these flowers offer a subtle minty flavour that complements salads, pasta, fruit dishes, and beverages.
- Lavender: With its sweet, spicy, and perfumed essence, lavender flowers are a versatile addition to both savoury and sweet recipes.
- Lemon Verbena: The small off-white blossoms carry a delightful lemon scent, making them perfect for infusing teas and adding a citrusy touch to desserts.
- Chamomile: These small, daisy-like flowers bring a sweet taste and are commonly used in tea. However, individuals allergic to ragweed should be cautious.
- Lilac: The flowers smell strong, like citrus mixed with flowers. They taste like they smell.
- Mint: Surprisingly, the flowers taste like mint. Some are stronger than others.
- Nasturtium: These flowers are very popular to eat. They are bright and taste sweet with a spicy finish. After they bloom, the seed pods are also tasty. You can use the flowers in many ways, like stuffing them or adding them to salads.
- Oregano: The flowers of oregano are pretty and subtle, like a lighter version of the leaves.
- Pansy: The petals might not stand out much, but if you eat the whole flower, you get more flavour.
How to Eat Flowers Safely
Eating flowers might seem nice, but it can also be dangerous. Don’t worry, though. Here are some tips to help you eat flowers safely:
- Stick to flowers you know are safe to eat. If you’re not sure, check a book about edible flowers.
- It’s best to eat flowers you’ve grown yourself or ones you know haven’t been treated with chemicals. Flowers from stores or nurseries might have pesticides on them.
- Avoid eating flowers from roadsides or public parks. They could have pesticides or car pollution on them.
- Only eat the petals of flowers, and remove any pistils or stamens first.
- If you have allergies, be careful when trying edible flowers. They could make your allergies worse.
- Keep your flowers fresh by putting them on damp paper towels and storing them in a sealed container in the fridge. They can last up to 10 days this way. If they start to wilt, you can try putting them in ice water to perk them up.