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Edible Flowers

Growing Flowers that are Beautiful, As Well As Delicious

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The edible flowers of Pansies are great

The edible flowers of Pansies are great when candied.

Marie Iannotti
Edible flowers aren't a new phenomenon, but garnishes of fresh flowers tend to intimidate diners. No one is really sure if the flowers are there for decoration or to be eaten. Even if they are to be eaten, diners often wonder if they will taste good, or like parsley, be better left on the plate.

There are several flowers blossoms that can be enjoyed both fresh and cooked. It's hard to find edible flowers to purchase, but quite easy to grow most of them in your garden. Since flowers are best when eaten soon after harvest, growing your own edible flowers makes even more sense.


Use Caution When Selecting Edible Flowers

  • Only eat flowers when you are absolutely certain they are edible. Just because a flower is used as a garnish, doesn't mean it's edible.

  • Never eat a flower that has been treated with a pesticide that was not labeled for use on food products. Always follow the pesticide label instructions for harvesting.

  • Never eat flowers from florists, nurseries or roadsides.


Harvesting and Storing Edible Flowers

  • For most flowers listed as being edible, they are referring to the petals only. Remove the pistils and stamens before eating as well as any attached sepals.

  • Expect the flavor of edible flowers to vary seasonally and with growing location.

  • Edible flowers should ideally be harvested in the cool, morning hours. If you are not going to be using the flowers immediately, cut them with the stems in tact and keep them in water. You could also store them in damp paper towels, in the refrigerator.


Edible Flowers to Grow in Your Vegetable or Flower Garden

  • Borage: Borage has a cucumber like scent and flavor. The vivid blue flowers make a striking addition to a salad or a last minute garnish to cooked foods.

  • Calendula: (Pot Marigolds) The petals work well in cooked and fresh dishes. Calendula is also used as a saffron substitute. The yellow or orange petals will color and flavor foods when chopped and sautéed.

  • Dandelion: Everyone is familiar with dandelion wine, but the flowers are also edible and quite delicious when young and tender. There are many cultivated varieties that have been developed for less bitter taste and more controlled growth, but even the so called weeds in your lawn can be eaten, provided you haven't used pesticides on them.

  • Daylily: Most people are surprised to hear that Daylily flowers are edible, however they are often stuffed and prepared like squash blossoms.

  • Gem Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia): 'Lemon Gem' and 'Tangerine Gem' Marigolds are the only edible marigolds. As their names suggest, they have a citrus flavor, even though you won't smell a citrus scent. Pull off the petals and break off and remove the bitter portion that comes to a right angle.

  • Herb Flowers: (Anise Hyssop, Basil, Bee Balm, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Garlic...) Many herb flowers are just as tasty as the foliage and more attractive. Add some petals to any dish you were already going to flavor with the herb.

  • Nasturtium: Easy to grow. Flowers have a peppery tang to them. The bright colors make great accents in salads. Can also be used to infuse vinegar. or even vodka.

  • Pansy: The whole flower is edible, sepals and all. Pansies have a mild, minty flavor. The flowers work well for candying and make great decorations on top of hor d'oeuvres and cakes.

  • Squash Blossoms: All squash flowers are edible, not just zucchini. A popular way of preparing them is to stuff the blossoms with cheese and fry them.
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