Too pretty to eat or pretty enough to eat- that is the question. Nature provides us more resources than we may realize. They can be found in the trees, from the water and even the flowers we so admire. For those looking to experience all that nature has to offer or are just looking to add a little flavor into your life or your diet, we have hand-picked what flowers are edible for you.
The history that proceeds the art of cooking and garnishing with flowers stems back to Roman times. Found in Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian and Victorian culture, edible flowers were a large part of cuisine during Queen Victoria’s reign. The first documented mention of edible flowers dates back to 140 B.C.
From rose-water to candies violets, flowers are used in a wide variety of ways. They aren’t just meant to accent your table and make it look pretty. They can be enjoyed as an accent to your dish. Some may come as a surprise while other flowers have equally appealing names to match their flavor.
Bean blossoms have a sweet, beany flavor like the name would suggest. Freshen things up with miniature pansies, as they have a mild wintergreen taste. Although the name may deceive you, banana flowers, also known as banana blossoms, have an artichoke-like flavor that makes a great addition to salads, and violets, roses, and lavender lend sweet flavors to both your healthy salads or decadent desserts.
Flowers: Pretty Treat You Can Eat
If you’re new to the edible flower fad, that’s okay. We have some great tips and tricks for those who are wanting to experiment with flowers in their life other than out in the garden.
From delicious drinks to desserts and savory dishes, flowers can be incorporated into all sorts of recipes. Flowers can be quite potent in recipes, so a little goes a long way. Get ready to learn something new, maybe one of these flowers will inspire the ingredients you choose.
Dried hibiscus is a popular treat and is often used as a garnish on desserts or in syrups in Mexico. Hibiscus tea is another very popular option. Fun fact-you are eating the underside of the hibiscus. This flower can be eaten fresh and its flavor is often compared to a cranberry.
These petals can be added to rice, poultry and salads. They are also ideal for adding color to a dish but be cautious if you are picking wildly grown ones, because calendula picked in a public area is likely being sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals that aren’t meant for ingesting.
Cucumber like flavor- borage shouldn’t be dried. Rather, they are meant to be eaten fresh. They are ideal for salads or as a garnish in drinks. They are also commonly used in pastries and desserts too. Have fun with a little DIY and add them to ice cubes for a beautiful and easy summer drink.
To say they taste perfume-y may not appeal to your taste buds, but pansies can be used in everything from salads to punch and desserts. Are all pansies edible? In fact, pansies are one of the few flowers where you don’t have to stop at the petals. The stamen, pistil, and sepals can all be enjoyed too. They are also one of the many edible flowers for cakes.
Also known as the cornflower or bachelor’s button, centaurea cyanus are mostly decorative. They can be found in teas like Lady Grey, and these flowers are very easy to grow for a home gardener. They will even “self-seed.”
Also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley- most people know coriander as an herb and only eat the seeds or leaves. However, this is another plant that is entirely edible. They are great for savory dishes or snacks. Pair them with a cracker and some cream cheese and smoked salmon for a yummy snack.
Better Known as the carnation- you can only eat these flower’s petals. They are popularly used as decorations for cake. They can also be candied, steeped in wine and (for the 21 and over crowd) even infused in vodka. Use carnation petals in salad, as a garnish, or chopped up and added to baked goods. They are paired well with sweet or savory dishes.
Typically served in savory meat and seafood dishes, radish blossoms can be used in salads too. If you like radishes but don’t want to be overwhelmed by the potency that radishes sometimes have, take comfort in versatility and delicious ability to complement avocado toast.
Like mustard, Nasturtium are hard to grow, but it is well rewarding. It has a peppery flavor like watercress, and the pickled buds of this flower can be substituted for more expensive capers.
Although all these flowers are appreciated as delicious ingredients, it is important to know that you can’t just pick any flower and throw it into your cooking regime. Some flowers are delicious treats while others can leave you feeling unsettled.
Flowers: Looks That Can Kill
Okay, kill may be a strong word, but it got your attention. However, it is important to know that not all flowers are edible and if ingested, can leave you feeling unsettled. Some of your favorite blooms may be meant for your eyes and not your stomach.
Take the well-loved hydrangea flower as an example. Hydrangeas are meant to accent your home but not your dish. These beautiful flowers can be especially toxic to pets.
If you are interested in incorporating more flowers and natural products into your diet, here is a quick list of Poisonous, Non-Edible Flowers for reference.
Flowers are a beautiful decoration to spruce up your home and your dinner plate. Many flowers that we encounter in everyday life are edible and can be a great addition to your recipes. Not all flowers you’re familiar with fall into the category of edible, so you need to make sure you do your own research before experimenting with any flower-related recipes.
Always be cautious with any new foods or new ingredients you incorporate into your diet. Flowers are beautiful and many are edible, but every person’s body may react different. It is important to be particularly careful if you suffer from asthma or allergies. Those suffering from these conditions should be mindful because they may have a negative reaction to digesting flowers and plants.
If you are looking for some recipes to feed your floral appetite, these Flower Power! 30 Edible Flower Recipes are some colorful choices to consider.
Our florists at Flower Island serving areas around Chula Vista, CA, are here to help you with your floral needs. If you try one of these flower-based recipes or find some that you find as satisfying as they are pretty, share them with us on social. Let’s share the joy of flowers with each other!