Flowers are typically something we buy to liven up our homes or gardens and add a nice scent to the air, however, what most people don’t realise is that there are flowers that are edible and contain vitamins that are good for you. Roses and marigolds, for example, are rich in vitamin C and have been used by our ancestors and around the globe for cooking in soups, stir fry’s, salads, pies and casseroles.
Before you start nibbling at your garden, though, consider the following:
• Can you identify each plant with certainty?
• Is the plant you want to eat poisonous, or could it cause an allergic reaction?
• Has the plant been free from pesticides and been grown organically?
• Do you have any allergies, hay fever or asthma? If so, you should not be eating flowers.
If you are sure that the flower is safe to eat, cut it during the cooler parts of the day, i.e. early morning/late afternoon. Choose healthy and strong looking flowers, avoid flowers that are wilting or have not yet blossomed, and once they are cut place them straight into a shaded basket, keeping the stems intact.
To prepare your flowers wash them and remove all dirt and soil and then remove the inside of the flower (i.e. the styles and stamens). Not all parts of the flower you have chosen might be edible, some flowers like: clover, honeysuckle, scarlet, violets and violas are all completely edible. With other flowers, like: roses, tulips and lavender, only the petals are edible.
Here is a guide to flowers that you can grow in your garden and are edible:
• Herbs are the most obvious choice when it comes to growing edible plants and flowers. Herbs such as: chives, garlic, fennel, cilantro, basil and dill grow flowers that too are edible and make lovely decorations in a dish.
• Borage tastes and smells like cucumber, furthermore it has beautiful blue flowers that are ideal for garnishing and creating a stunning look to the meal.
• Pansies have a mild mint flavour to them, the entire of the flower is completely edible and the flowers when added to a dish are very decorative.
• Dandelions are a popular choice when it comes to making wine, but the flowers are also edible and said to be very tasty. There are a variety of dandelion species and they vary with taste.
• Sunflower blossoms are also edible and in vibrant yellow, burgandy orange and white colours are very pretty on a plate.
• The beautiful tulip flower in its array of colours, has a gorgeous sweet taste to it.
• Violets are said to have a be a little bit sour in taste.
• Petunia’s have a milder flavour to them, therefore you may need to use more.
• You can stuff a Daylily in a similar way you would a squash blossom.
• Squash Blossoms are all edible and can be stuffed with things like cheese and fried to create a yummy treat.
• Nasturtium is very simple to grow and has bright vibrant colours. They have a peppery flavour to them, and can be soaked in vinegar or even alcohol such as vodka.
• Some Gem marigolds, such as ‘Tangerine Gem’ and ‘Lemon Gem’ are edible and have a citrus taste to them, though they don’t smell very citrusy.
• Pot Marigolds are also edible, the petals colour food when it is cooked in with the meal, and once the petals are chopped, their flavours are released.
When you are growing these flowers, keep in mind that the intention is to eat them, therefore refrain from adding anything like pesticides to the flower that could potentially poison you.