As lovely as eating flowers can be, it can also be a little … deadly. Not to scare you off or anything, but follow these tips for eating flowers safely:
- Eat flowers you know to be consumable — if you are uncertain, consult a reference book on edible flowers and plants.
- Eat flowers you have grown yourself, or know to be safe for consumption. Flowers from the florist or nursery have probably been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
- Do not eat roadside flowers or those picked in public parks. Both may have been treated with pesticide or herbicide, and roadside flowers may be polluted by car exhaust.
- Eat only the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating.
- If you suffer from allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may exacerbate allergies.
- To keep flowers fresh, place them on moist paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. Some will last up to 10 days this way. Ice water can revitalize limp flowers.
21 edible flowers
1. Bee balm The red flowers have a minty flavor.
2. Chamomile Small and daisy-like, the flowers have a sweet flavor and are often used in tea. Ragweed sufferers may be allergic to chamomile.
3. Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat) Citrus blossoms are sweet and highly scented. Use frugally or they will over-perfume a dish.
4. Gladiolus Who knew? Although gladioli are bland, they can be stuffed, or their petals removed for an interesting salad garnish.
5. Impatiens Flowers don’t have much flavor — best as a pretty garnish or for candying.
6. Nasturtium One of the most popular edible flowers, nasturtium blossoms are brilliantly colored with a sweet, floral flavor bursting with a spicy pepper finish. When the flowers go to seed, the seed pod is a marvel of sweet and spicy. You can stuff flowers, add leaves to salads, pickle buds like capers, and garnish to your heart’s content.
7. Rose Remove the white, bitter base and the remaining petals have a strongly perfumed flavor perfect for floating in drinks or scattering across desserts, and for a variety of jams. All roses are edible, with flavor more pronounced in darker varieties.
8. Squash and pumpkin Blossoms from both are wonderful vehicles for stuffing, each having a slight squash flavor. Remove stamens before using.
9. Violets Another famous edible flower, violets are floral, sweet and beautiful as garnishes. Use the flowers in salads and to garnish desserts and drinks.
10. Sunflower Petals can be eaten, and the bud can be steamed like an artichoke.
11. Rosemary Flowers taste like a milder version of the herb; nice used as a garnish on dishes that incorporate rosemary.
12. Lemon verbena The diminutive off-white blossoms are redolent of lemon — and great for teas and desserts.
13. Hibiscus Famously used in hibiscus tea, the vibrant cranberry flavor is tart and can be used sparingly.
14. English daisy These aren’t the best-tasting petals — they are somewhat bitter — but they look great!
15. Chrysanthemum A little bitter, mums come in a rainbow of colors and a range of flavors range from peppery to pungent. Use only the petals.
16. Cilantro Like the leaves, people either love the blossoms or hate them. The flowers share the grassy flavor of the herb. Use them fresh as they lose their charm when heated.
17. Carnations / dianthus Petals are sweet, once trimmed away from the base. The blossoms taste like their sweet, perfumed aroma.
18. Arugula Blossoms are small with dark centers and with a peppery flavor much like the leaves. They range in color from white to yellow with dark purple streaks.
19. Allium All blossoms from the allium family (leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives) are edible and flavorful! Flavors run the gamut from delicate leek to robust garlic. Every part of these plants is edible.
20. Pansy The petals are somewhat nondescript, but if you eat the whole flower you get more taste.
21. Chicory Mildly bitter earthiness of chicory is evident in the petals and buds, which can be pickled.