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Incredible Edible Flowers – Garden to Table Cooking

Truth be told, I don’t remember when I first started eating flowers, but it’s a safe bet it was by accident when I was a child. Since then I have grown and sampled my share of flowers deemed edible and have discovered a class of flowers that go beyond edible to a category that is truly appetizing.

There are hundreds of species of flowers that are safe to eat, and I’ve found many at my local K-Mart. In fact you probably have edible flowers in your yard, flower border, herb bed or vegetable garden. (Broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes are all flower buds that have yet to open).

Naturally some edible flowers are more appetizing than others. One in particular that is at the top of my list is nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), which have a somewhat spicy, peppery flavor similar to watercress. I use the flowers to accent salads, vegetables, pastas and stir-fries. Borage (Borago officinalis) has subtle notes of cucumber and can be used as a garnish sprinkled over soups, salads and dips, but I especially enjoy showing off their beauty in beverages by freezing the flowers into ice cubes.

A few other personal favorites include lavender flowers (great with meat, potatoes, sauces, cookies, desserts and lavender lemonade); squash blossoms are perfect for frying or stuffing; arugula flowers have a slightly nutty flavor for topping salads; and scented geraniums (Pelargonium): rose-, peppermint- and lemon-scented varieties are the best flavored for ice cream, sorbet, cakes and other desserts.

The secret to producing the biggest and best-tasting blooms starts with an organic fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus. I sometimes add about one tablespoon of Epsom salt for extra magnesium, which promotes better flower production.

Pick flowers at their peak of perfection in the cool of the morning or late afternoon. Then gently clean cut flowers in a shallow bowl with water prior to use. You can also keep your cut flowers fresh by storing them in a water-filled vase and then rinsing blooms just before use.

Keep in mind that all flowers are not edible, so make sure that it is before tasting. For flowers that are edible, some will be more to your liking than others. You can up the flavor factor by eating only the petals, as other flower parts (the stamen, pistil and anthers) may be bitter.

Finally, think of edible flowers as a seasoning or accent to other foods rather than the main ingredient. Use them to flavor sauces, jellies, syrups, vinegars, wine and other beverages. Sprinkle over pizza, bake into muffins, or toss with your favorite pasta dish.  Enjoy! – By Kris Wetherbee

Here are a few more edible flowers to consider:

  • Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum); robust root beer to strong anise flavor
  • Bee balm (Monarda didyma); sweet with a hint of mint
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis); slight floral to slightly bitter flavor (use like saffron)
  • Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis; sweet apple flavor
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum); strong onion flavor
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva); sweet and floral, or vegetal like zucchini/asparagus
  • Pansies, Johnny jump-ups, and violas (Viola X wittrockiana, V. tricolor, V. cornuta); sweet, to light and floral
  • Pinks (Dianthus); delicate flavor with a hint of clove
  • Rose (Rosa), varies from full-bodied floral, to pleasantly sweet and floral, to ginger overtones, to slightly metallic
  • Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus); mild bean flavor
  • Yucca (Yucca filamentosa); slightly bitter with a mild artichoke flavor








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kris wetherbee


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  1. I never knew that there were so many edible flowers with different flavors. Thanks again for sharing yet another informative and inspiring article!

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