You’ve been told over and over again to remember in life to stop and smell the roses, but have you ever thought to stop and eat them? In this day and age of healthy living, organic foods and vegetarianism, edible flowers are becoming increasingly popular for use in both gourmet cuisine and down-home cooking.
You might be surprised to learn that several of the most popular garden flowers are edible and tasty. Many people are used to growing herbs and vegetables in their home gardens so that they can have fresh, fragrant and healthy additions to their home cooked meals. If you grow your flowers in the same, well-maintained environment as your herbs and veggies, you could be garnishing and flavouring meals with them as well.
Remember, don’t just pick daisies from the side of the highway and toss them into your picnic salad! Read these rules before you eat any flowers, as several varieties can be toxic and make you and your family very ill.
Important things to consider before using flowers as food:
· Always be absolutely certain that the flowers you are eating are in fact edible! Correctly identifying is essential.
· Be sure that any flowers you are using as food have not been sprayed by any chemicals or grown in toxic fertilizers. It’s best to grow flowers that you intend on eating in your own garden, making sure to treat the soil in the same way that you would for any vegetable or herb.
· Store-bought flowers are almost always chemically treated so that they last longer and grow larger. Never eat a flower meant only for aesthetic purposes.
· Remove pistils, stamens, and seeds from flowers before eating. They are probably not harmful, but usually taste very bitter and will ruin your meal.
· Remember that a lot of people are allergic to certain flowers or their pollen. Never feed flowers to someone unless you are certain they have no allergy to the species.
· Always wash your flowers thoroughly before you use them in your cooking.
Flowers Fit for Food
This list is by no means complete, but here are some common flowers that can be eaten, and that have a lovely taste. Remember, as with any of your cooking, to be creative and have fun. Trial and error will often end in some delicious recipes that you can use for many meals to come.
Culinary Herbs: You may be an old hand at growing your own herbs and spices, but don’t forget that many of these plants are flowering. If you can eat the stalk, you can usually eat the flowers too. They make a beautiful and fragrant garnish or addition to salad. Try the blooms from basil, oregano, chives, thyme, sage, dill, and the ever-favourite garlic.
Chrysanthemum: These lovely blooms are often used to make a fragrant tea, however, you can eat them as well. They are lovely in a stir-fry or even just a pretty addition to a salad, bringing an all-new meeting to the term garden fresh.
Fuchsias: That’s right, you can eat them! The beauty of this bloom will brighten up any meal and they taste wonderful as a garnish on grilled chicken, fish or vegetables.
Daylilies: These large flowers may look too beautiful to eat, but give them a try and you might be pleasantly surprised. Fully open flowers can be stuffed and deep-fried for something truly unique, or you can pluck the buds just as the flowers begin to bloom and toss them in a salad.
Johnny-Jump-Up: These are one of the first flowers we see in the spring and their purple and yellow face is always a welcoming site. Warm up a meal by adding them to a salad. Their wintergreen taste is very refreshing.
Rose: This elegant flower is the most popular offering to give to your lover, why not give it to them in a meal? Always remove the base petals as they tend to be very sour. You know how wonderfully fragrant roses can be, so remember that they will be equally full of flavour.
Lilac: The wonderfully sweet fragrance of lilacs are a welcome addition to the spring garden, but they are also a delicious addition to yogurt or ice-cream for a delectable springtime dessert.
Scented Geranium: Another common garden flower that you can enjoy in a meal. These flowers actually have a range of different flavours depending on their variety and can taste like nutmeg, mint or even lemon.
Remember, a general rule with edible flowers is that they will taste similar to how they smell, if you like there fragrance, you will like their flavour too.