Innovative cooks will find edible flower petals to be a boon, whether they use them as an ingredient or as a garnish on cakes and cheese plates. They can add a fresh flourish of color, unique flavors, and interesting textures to savory dishes.
Traditionally, cultures around the world have brightened the taste of their recipes by adding gorgeous flowers for centuries. Rosewater, for instance, was used in Roman baths and fountains to help people freshen up and cook. Roses were also used for flavoring a variety of dishes in Roman times. Our sense of smell, sight, and touch are all delighted by flowers – it’s no wonder that some flowers can also be a meal for our taste buds.
You should always check the edible status of a flower and, when in doubt, never bite into it!
A few flowers, including azaleas, buttercups, daffodils, delphiniums, and wisteria are considered toxic flowers. Not all fresh flowers are edible, and proper identification must be done. The use of pesticides, in addition to tasting some flowers from florists or garden centers, which are intended to be eaten, can cause people to become very ill. They are advised to NEVER use pesticides on any part of a plant that produces beautiful flowers you intend to eat. Don’t pick roadside flowers, only eat edible flowers and parts of edible flowers.
Make sure to follow recipes carefully or improvise, and introduce these flower petals in small amounts to gauge how your body reacts to them. Those who have allergic reactions should proceed with heightened caution, as well as consult their doctor before doing so. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask if flowers used as garnish are edible when eating out.
Whenever you need to make the switch to organic, blossoms grown in your flower beds is a good place to start. That’s because you know how they have been grown and are confident that nothing has been sprayed on them. Pick them during the morning when they have optimal water content. Do not consume petals in salads unless you confirm that they were grown without these chemicals.
It is best to pick your coloured flowers in the morning when the day is cool. Be sure to remove the pistils and stamen, and wash sweet petals carefully. You should also make sure that your flowers have no insects in them.
Chamomile: Most people make use of the white flowers, with the yellow centers having a mild, apple-like flavor. Toss a few crushed or dried English chamomile flowers into your favorite hot cereal, either melted in hot butter or over toast.
Carnations: Steep them in wine or candy for them to have a sweet taste, or use them as cake decoration. Use the individual petals separately from the off-putting white base to obtain a more sweet flavor. Chartreuse, a French liqueur, uses carnation petals as one of its secret ingredients.
Lavender: Lavender flowers, like all herb flowers, are edible. With a distinct floral taste and minty flavor, these have a minty aroma. When preparing sweet dishes like chocolate cake, use a very small amount; a little goes a long way.
Borage flowers: The blue borage flower is a star-shaped, vibrant blossom that has a mild, delicate flavour that has been described by some foodies as a sweet honey taste. These gorgeous edible flowers are also mildly salty. The entire flower is also delicious.
Gladiolus: Flowers (with anthers removed) make good cutlery for soups and salads. Have them cut into pieces and toss in fruit salads or fruit dishes.
Begonia: Flowers with vibrant colors have a delicious citrus taste and a crisp texture. Use snipped petals into salads or dip whole petals in flavoured yogurt as lovely receptacles. Only tuberous begonia petals are edible but should be avoided by those who suffer from kidney stones.
Hibiscus: The flower has a cranberry-like flavor with its acidic petals. You can eat hibiscus flowers straight off the plant, but they are usually used for tea, relishes, jams, or green salads. Hibiscus tea is thought to have medicinal properties, so many cultures consume it.
Nasturtium: All parts of Nasturtiums are edible. The nasturtium blossoms and seed pods are sweet and have a spicy flavor. They go well with a savory mousse.
Bee Balm: Also known as Wild Bergamot, has a pleasant taste like oregano and mint. The leaves and flowers of bee balm are traditionally brewed to make tea. This herbal tea is known as Oswego tea. Bee Balm is used a lot, from teas to salves and baths, or flowers in salads as a topper or a simple floral jelly.
Arugula: The blossom is small, has a dark center, and has a peppery flavor much like the leaves. Their color range is from white to yellow with dark purple stripes. Flavor and dimension can be added to several foods with arugula blossoms. Try adding them to salads with goat cheese, sandwiches, soups, and eggs.
Fennel: Florence fennel, both an herb and a vegetable, both produce attractive and tall umbels of pale yellow flowers that have a mild licorice flavour.
Marigolds: Choose the tiny yellow and orange signet marigold flowers, such as the Lemon Gem and the Tangerine Gem. Their blossoms have a lemony flavour. They may taste similarly to saffron when sauteed in olive oil.
Pansy: It is best to use cilantro flowers fresh, never dried. It can be eaten with the leaves or is a fine substitute in milder recipes with its grassy flavor. The blossoms take the edge off of foods with spicy taste and elevate savory ones.
Lilac: A large variety exists, each with its distinct flavor of lilacs. They are perfumed and have a slightly bitter, floral taste. They have a floral flavor with a lemony taste. Good in salads and frosted cakes.
Daylily: Foragers know those wild daylilies are a special summer treat, but chances are they are growing in your suburban backyard as well. A daylily’s unopened flower buds are for the most part fried into daylily fritters or stir-fried with vegetables.
Roses: Strawberry and green apple – fruit to mint, perfumed flavors. All roses are edible except for the darker varieties, in which the taste is stronger. They are sweet, with subtle undertones from mint to cloves. These mini blossoms are perfect for garnishing ice cream and desserts, or they can be salad garnish. You can even freeze them in ice cubes. You can use petals in syrups, jellies, perfumed creams, and sweet spreads. Note: It is advisable to remove the bitter base or the white portion of the petals.