The use of flowers in cooked dishes goes back thousands of years among Chinese, Greeks and Romans. Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cuisine – think of pumpkin flowers in Italian cuisine and rose petals in Indian cuisine. Adding flowers to your food can be a good way to add color, flavor and a little fancy. Some are spicy, and some are herbaceous, while others are floral and fragrant. The range is surprising.
It’s not uncommon to use flower petals in salads, teas, and to garnish desserts, but they also inspire creative uses – spicy rolls (like chive flowers), incorporate flowers into homemade ice cream, a marinade of floral buds (such as nasturtium) to make an ersatz caper, use them to make a simple floral syrup to use in a lemonade or cocktail. Once I stuffed gladioli with a stuffed squash flower recipe – they were great. So many possibilities …
Eating flowers safely
So. As charming as eating flowers can be, it can be a little too … deadly! It’s not scare you or anything. Follow these tips to eat flowers safely:
- Eat flowers you know to be edible – if you’re not sure, check out a reference book on flowers and edible plants.
- Eat flowers that you have grown yourself, or know to be safe for consumption. The flowers of the florists have probably been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
- Do not eat roadside flowers or those picked in public parks. They may have been treated with pesticides or herbicides, and roadside flowers may be polluted by car exhausts.
- Eat only the petals, pistils and remove and stamens before eating.
- If you suffer from allergies, gradually introduce edible flowers, as they can exacerbate allergies.
- To keep fresh flowers, place them on damp paper towels and refrigerate them in an airtight container. Some will keep up to 10 days this way. Icy water can revitalize the soft flowers.
1. Alliums All the flowers of the allium family (leek, chives, garlic, garlic chives) are edible and tasty! Flavors range from delicate leek to robust garlic. Each part of these plants is edible.
2. The angelic
Depending on the variety, the flowers vary from lavender pale blue to deep pink and have a liquorice-like flavor.
3. Hyssop anise
The flowers and leaves have a subtle flavor of anise or liquorice.
4. The rocket
The flowers are small with dark centers and with a peppery taste a bit like the leaves. They vary in color from white to yellow with dark purple stripes.
5. The blueberry
With a taste of grass, the petals are edible. Avoid the bitter chalice.
6. The basil
The flowers are of different colors, from white to pink to the color of lavender; the flavor is similar to the leaves, but softer.
7. Lemon balm
The red flowers have a mint flavor.
The flowers have a beautiful blue hue and a taste of cucumber!
9. The marigold / calendula
An excellent flower to eat, calendula flowers are peppery, spicy and spicy – and their vibrant golden color adds a touch to any dish.
10. The carnations
The petals are sweet, if removed from the base. The flowers have the same taste as their sweet and fragrant aroma.
Small and like daisies, the flowers have a sweet flavor and are often used in tea. People with allergies to ragweed may be allergic to chamomile.
12. The chervil
Delicate flowers and flavor, which have a hint of anise.
The slightly bitter truculence of chicory is evident in the petals and buds, which can be marinated.
14. The chrysanthemum
A bit bitter, chrysanthemums have a rainbow of colors and a range of flavors that range from peppery to pungent. Use only the petals.
16. Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat)
The citrus flowers are sweet and very fragrant. Use them sparingly or they will scent a dish too much.
The flowers are sweet with a hint of licorice.
18. The dandelion
The yellow flowers of dill have a taste similar to the leaves.
20. The daisy
It’s not the petals that taste the best – they’re a bit bitter – but they look great!
21. The fennel
The yellow flowers of fennel are a feast for the eyes with a subtle liquorice flavor, much like the plant itself.
22. The fuchsia
The acidulous flowers of fuchsias decorate the dishes.
23. The Gladiolus
Who would have believed it? Although gladiolas are bland, they can be stuffed, or remove their petals for an interesting salad dressing.
Known and used in hibiscus tea, the vibrant cranberry flavor is tart and can be used sparingly.
25. The hollyhock
With a vegetal and bland flavor, hollyhock flowers give a conspicuous edible filling.
26. The impatiens
The flowers do not have a lot of flavor – better as a nice topping or to confit.
These super-fragrant blooms are used in tea; you can also use them in sweet dishes, but sparingly.
Adorable and delicious, the flowers have a subtle mint flavor well suited for salads, fruit salads and drinks.
Sweet, spicy and fragrant, the flowers are a great addition to both salty and sweet dishes.
The off-white flowers are tiny and evoke lemon – and very good for teas and desserts.
31. The lilac
The flowers are pungent, but the citrus floral aroma translates into its flavor too.
The flowers are – surprise! – mentholated. Their intensity varies according to the varieties.
One of the most popular edible flowers, nasturtium flowers are brightly colored with an explosion of sweet and floral flavors with a chilli finish. When the flowers go to seed, the pod is a sweet and spicy wonder. You can stuff the flowers, add the leaves to the salads, confirm the buds like the capers, and garnish to your heart’s content.
The flowers are a pretty and subtle version of the leaf.
35. The thought
The petals are a bit odd, but if you eat the whole flower you get more taste.
In different colors, radish flowers have a distinctive peppery taste.
37. The rose
Remove the white and bitter base and the remaining petals have a perfect and very fragrant flavor to float in the drinks or by dispersing it in desserts, and for a variety of jams. All roses are edible, with a more pronounced flavor in darker varieties.
The flowers taste like a softer version of the plant; used agrablement as a garnish on dishes that incorporate rosemary.
The flowers have a subtle flavor similar to leaves.
40. Pumpkin and pumpkin
The flowers are wonderful for stuffing, having a slight squash flavor. Remove the stamens before using them.
The petals can be eaten, and the bud can be steamed like an artichoke.
Another famous edible flower, the violets are floral, sweet and beautiful as an ornament. Use the flowers in salads and to beautify desserts and drinks.