As Delicious As They Are Beautiful
With their natural beauty and unique flavours, edible flowers are an elegant addition to any celebration. Using them in your daily meals adds nutritious appeal to even the simplest menu. Incorporating edible flowers into your recipes is an easy and exquisite way to ensure the dishes you serve are enjoyed and admired by all.
Before you begin to experiment with edible flowers, please take note of the following:
- Start slowly when you begin incorporating edible flowers into your diet to avoid possible allergic reactions.
- You should exercise the same care you take in choosing the vegetables you eat when choosing edible flowers. If you do not grow your own flowers, look for organically grown varieties at your florist or local market.
- DO NOT consume flowers bought from retail outlets unless you are certain they have been grown without chemicals. Your best bet is to grow them yourself.
- Eat only those parts of the flower or plant that you have confirmed to be safe for human consumption.
- Know what you are eating and if you are unsure of the toxicity of a flower or plant ask a qualified professional before you consume it.
Once you have taken the proper precautions, you are ready to begin enjoy the unique flavours of edible flowers.
Did You Know…
…the pollen contained in many flowers is rich in vitamins and minerals?
…roses and rosehips are loaded with vitamin C?
…dandelion blossoms are high in vitamin A and C?
…dandelion leaves are high in iron, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A and C?
…marigolds and nasturtium contain vitamin C?
…most blossoms are very low in calories?
…artichokes and broccoli are actually flower buds?
- When making ice cubes, drop a few edible flowers in each tray compartment then freeze. “Flower cubes” make an elegant addition to punch bowls, cocktails or other cold beverages.
- Alternate layers of rose or geranium petals or lemon balm with layers of regular sugar in small jars, seal and allow two weeks for the scent to permeate the sugar. These colourful, aromatic sugars can be used on the table or in cooking to add a delicate taste to foods and beverages.
- You can also use scented geranium petals to scent jelly, ice creams and cakes.
- Day lily buds can be frozen for later use in Oriental soups or stirfries.
- Spicy nasturtium flowers and leaves add flavour and vibrant colour to salads.
- Pansies can be candied, used as a garnish or tossed into salads for colour.
- Sweet-smelling rose petals add a delicate flavour to sweets. Remember to remove the bitter white base of the petal before eating!
- Chrysanthemum petal tips complement ginger in meat dishes.
- Dianthus’ clove-like flavour makes a pleasant addition to salads and seafood.
- Try using homegrown hibiscus to make a delicious, fragrant tea.
Easy Edible Candied Pansies
Candied flowers are an easy and elegant garnish to make. They are especially exquisite when used for wedding cake decorations. Pansy blossoms are ideal for this project because their simple shape and strong structure holds up well under the sugar’s weight.
- Rinse and thoroughly dry pesticide-free pansies.
- Using a small paintbrush, thinly coat the petals with lightly beaten egg whites.
- Set pansies on a plate covered with superfine sugar.
- Sprinkle the blossoms with more superfine sugar. Gently shake to remove the excess.
- Place on waxed paper and allow to dry for several hours.
Some Common Edibles
The following is a brief list and description of some popular edible flowers and plants. Explore books and the Internet or talk to your florist or produce manager for more recipe ideas and edible varieties!
Apple Blosom, Malus spp. – pale pink blossom has a delicate floral flavour.
Carnation, Dianthus spp. – pink, red, mauve flowers add a spicy, clove-like flavour
Day Lily, Hemerocallis spp. – yellow, orange, red buds have a sweet taste and crunchy texture.
Lilac, Syringa vulgaris - lavender blossoms have a pungent floral and lemony flavour.
Pansy, Viola X Wittrockiana – purple, white, yellow and multi-coloured blooms have a sweet to tart flavour.
Violet, Viola odorata – white and purple blossoms have a sweet, nectar-like taste.
Additional Edible Flowers
Bee Balm, Bergamot
Chrysanthemum petal tips
Citrus (orange, lemon, lime) blossoms
Sweet William or Pinks
Fruit blossoms (apple, peach, pear, apricot)
Squash, Zucchini & Pumpkin flowers
Yucca (petals only), Spanish bayonet
Suggestions for Using Edible Flowers
- Do not consume flowers bought from retail outlets unless you can confirm they have been grown without chemicals.
- Grow them yourself or buy from a certified organic grower.
- Start with small quantities to avoid possible allergic reaction.
- Although flowers may be edible, they may not be palatable.
- Eat only the parts known to be safe. The other parts of several plants are poisonous.
- Wash as thoroughly as possible.
- Do not eat flowers picked from roadsides due to poisonous car exhaust emissions.
- Flowers grown by most florists, greenhouses and nurseries have been treated with fertilizers and pesticides and should not be consumed.
- Do not eat any flower you do not know for sure is edible. Consult a specialist.
- Remove pistils and stamens – eat only petals in most cases.