Fun Ways to Eat Edible Flowers

by Seasonal Wisdom on July 1, 2013

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Here at Seasonal Wisdom, we are big fans of edible flowers. In fact, here are eight of our favorite edible flowers to grow in the garden. To help you get started, Seasonal Wisdom shares some more fun ways to use edible flowers in your drinks and meals, including these squash flowers photographed by Weaselmcfee/Flickr.

Once you start experimenting with these ingredients, you’ll never look at these edible flowers the same way again. 

First off, it’s important that you read the safety information in this post. You should never eat anything you aren’t 100 percent sure is edible, and you should never eat edible flowers that have been sprayed.  It’s best to grow these edible flowers yourself so you can be certain they are safe to eat.

Chamomile are edible flowers often used in hot teas.

Photo copyright Seasonal Wisdom

Here are German chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita) that have self-seeded themselves in my garden. Standing next to these edible flowers is our gorgeous Slovakian Hound dog named Maggie, who is the pride of our family.

Chamomile is typically enjoyed as a refreshing and relaxing tea. To make chamomile tea, add one teaspoon of edible flowers to one cup of just boiled water and steep. This tea is often enjoyed in the evenings, after meals or when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

Calendula are colorful edible flowers that add beauty and flavor to meals.

Photo copyright Teresa O’Connor

Calendula officinalis is another annual that often self-seeds in the garden, under the right growing conditions. I like to enjoy these pretty edible flowers with tomatoes, ‘Amethyst’ basil and dark brown bread. Delicious!

Be sure to try Seasonal Wisdom’s recipe for Calendula Orange Biscuit recipe.

Calendula tastes great on salads, dips, scrambled eggs and soups. In fact, in the Middle Ages, calendula was often called “Pot Marigold,” because it was so popular in pottages or stews. (Don’t confuse calendula with ordinary marigolds.)

Borage are edible flowers that are great in soups, salads and dips.Photo Kightp/Flickr

Borage or Borago officinalis has a delightful cucumber flavor that can be frozen in ice cube trays for summer drinks, or added to dips or soups like this crab bisque.

Here’s a recipe for crab bisque from Simply Recipes. Be sure to add borage flowers at the very end, right before serving.

Elder has edible flowers that make great fritters.

Photo copyright Seasonal Wisdom

Elder flowers come for a brief time in summer on Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis plants. I don’t eat very many fried foods, but I’ll make an exception with elder fritters. They have a delightful floral taste that screams “summer” to me.

You can find my recipe for elder fritters here.

Elder berries are very high in antioxidants, and are featured in many cold remedies in Europe. Always cook the berries before you eat them. During the winter, this elderberry syrup with honey is particularly healthy and delicious when added to hot drinks and sparkling water.

Edible Flowers like lavender are great in drinks.

Photo copyright Seasonal Wisdom

Lavender has delightful edible flowers for the kitchen, as long as you don’t add too much to a dish. My favorite lavenders to eat are Lavendula angustifolia and Lavendula x intermedia ‘Provence.’

I enjoyed this refreshing lavender drink above at a farm-to-table meal, which was delicious. It consisted of a lavender syrup and sparkling water. To make the lavender syrup with honey, consider this recipe from Set the Table. Extra bonus: she provides a recipe for a Lavender-Honey Sidecar.

Edible flowers like lavender are great in baked goods like cupdakes.Photo by Amerigo/Flickr.

You can also make lavender sugar for baking cupcakes, breads and cakes. Layer a tablespoon of fresh, clean and dry lavender flowers in a canister with a couple cups of sugar. Allow the sugar to infuse the flowers for at least a week. Strain out the flowers, or grind them up in the sugar for a lovely floral taste.

Distopiandreamgirl - candied pansies are edible flowers that look lovely on a carrot cakePhoto by Distopiandreamgirl/flickr

Pansies, Violets and Johnny Jump Ups are delicious when they are candied and used on cupcakes, candies and cakes. This delightful carrot cake features strips of carrots with candied pansies on top. It’s almost too pretty to eat!

Learn how to candy the flowers from Spectacularly Delicious. This is a great way to use roses, as well.

Roses have long been enjoyed as edible flowers.

Photo copyright Kevin O’Connor

Speaking of roses, this flower has been enjoyed in the kitchen since the earliest days. Here is one of the old famous varieties, Rosa gallica ‘Apothecary Rose’, in my garden. This rose was renowned for its medicinal qualities and flavor.

Try edible flowers like roses in mixed drinks too.

Photo copyright Seasonal Wisdom

There are many ways to enjoy rose petals – from decorating cakes to bringing a nice floral taste to your vodka drinks. A nice rose syrup added to vodka and other ingredients is a wonderful thing, as you can see above.

Roses are particularly delicious infused in honey. See my recipe for making rose honey.

From edible flowers like roses come rose hips that can be used in hot teas.

Photo copyright Seasonal Wisdom

You can even drink the rose hips, which are very high in vitamin C. Plus, the rose hips are beautiful in the fall, as this rose bush shows. To make rose hip tea, check out this rose hip tea recipe from Mother Earth Living.

Oregano has edible flowers too. Use them in butters.

Photo copyright Isabel Gomes

Oregano is just one of the many herbs that have edible flowers. Other popular ones are the flowers of basil, thyme, rosemary and mint.  I like to add these flowers to pastas and soups right before serving. But they are particularly good in flavored butters.

You can find my tips on how to make flavored butters in this post. Use edible flowers or chopped herb leaves.

Zucchinis with edible flowers by clayirvingPhoto by Clayirving/Flickr

Squash flowers are particularly delicious and a delicacy in Italy. They should be eaten the day they are picked and kept carefully in the refrigerator in moist paper towels. Here’s how to make Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese from Epicurious.

Edible flowers come pre-mixed in salads too.Photo by Rose-hips/Flickr

Salads are an easy way to enjoy edible flowers such as nasturtiums, calendula and borage. Sometimes they come pre-packaged, but you can also add them straight from your own garden.

Edible flowers in prepackaged foods.Photo by AlexiUeltzen/Flickr

Many gourmet grocery stories and farmers markets now sell prepackaged jams, chutneys, vinegars, salad dressings and other food products with edible flowers. It’s an easy way to try these flowers without investing a lot of time.

However, you decide to try edible flowers, always know exactly what you’re eating and make sure it’s edible. Your best bet is to grow these flowers yourself. Enjoy!

More Information and Recipes:

Eight Easy-to-Grow Edible Flowers

May Wine with Sweet Woodruff

Roasted Butternut Squash with Nasturtiums

Strawberry Semifreddo with Pansies

Calendula-Orange Biscuits

Peaceful Valley’s Edible Flower Video with Tips from Seasonal Wisdom

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