Edible Flowers

The following are what I consider to be the most versatile edible flowers. Please, always remember to positively identify a flower before you eat it. If you are in doubt, check with your local University Extension Service. Further, never serve edible flowers that may have been sprayed with toxic pesticides.

Chives, roses, and scented geraniums

Chives, roses, and scented geraniums

  • Borage - Borago officinalis – Annual; half-inch size, blue, star-like flowers

How to prepare: First remove the green hairy sepals and serve only the blue petals. Enjoy the cucumber-flavored blue flowers in salads or use them to decorate desserts.

  • Calendulas - Calendula officinalis – Annual for cool weather; orange, cream, yellow 2-inch wide flowers

How to prepare: Calendula petals are most often used for their color rather than flavor. To prepare them remove the petals from the heads and use them whole or chopped. Use fresh petals in salads and omelets or dry the petals and use in rice dishes and soups.

  • Chamomile - Matricaria recutita – Annual for warm weather; small white daisy flowers

How to prepare: Annual chamomile has a pleasant pineapple flavor. Use flower heads either fresh or dried in either hot or iced tea. Sometimes chamomile leaves are combined with lemon verbena or mint leaves, or served cold combined with fruit juice.

  • Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia – Perennial, English lavender; tiny lavender flowers

How to prepare: The strong lemon-perfume taste of the petals is used to flavor lemonade, sugars, shortbread, ice cream, and in the herb mixture herbes de Provence.

  • Nasturtium - Tropaeolum majus – Annual; single red, orange, or yellow flowers

How to prepare: The mustard-flavored flowers, leaves, and seedpods of nasturtiums are edible. Mince leaves and flowers and incorporate into butters and soft cheeses, or use the petals to flavor oils, dressings, vinegars, or sprinkle them like confetti over a green salad.

  • Squash Blossoms – Cucurbita spp. – Annual for warm weather; 3 to 4-inch wide, yellow flowers

How to prepare: To prepare the slightly sweet flowers, wash and gently dry them. (Watch for bees sometimes trapped inside.). If you’re making fritters or stuffing them, keep the stems on but remove stamens and pistils. Blossoms can be stuffed with cheeses and meat mixtures; or sliced petals can be added to soups, frittatas, tacos, and salads.

  • Violas, Pansies, and Johnny-jump-ups – Viola cornuta, V. Wittrockiana, and V. tricolor and Violets – Viola odorata – Annual and perennials; small purple, yellow, or blue flowers

How to prepare: Violas, pansies, and Johnny-jump-ups have petals with a slight lettuce taste. Use fresh on desserts and in salads and on appetizers or candy them. Violets have a strong perfume taste and are great for candying or use fresh in tea sandwiches.

Garden celebration salad with calendula petals

Garden celebration salad with calendula petals

May 5, 2009 - 7:08 pm

Chris Prudhomme - I am really excited to see that you have started blogging! After I read your book on Edible Landscaping last year I was looking around online but only found the occasional article and speaking engagement. Glad to see your site up and running and I’ll look forward to following you and am eagerly waiting for your revised book to be published. There is a lot of renewed interest in the subject as climate change, agricultural shortcomings, energy scarcity and a strong desire for healthy, local food have brought the art of growing food to the forefront.

I have been experimenting a lot on edible landscape and edible food forest concepts over the last year but have been bumping into a lack of aesthetic cohesion while dealing with the demanding nature of annual vegetables in my organic garden. There are plenty of how-tos on the functional side of things, but what I really see lacking right now are good examples online of aesthetic successes and instructions on achieving consistent visual interest and artistry in edible landscape design. I have been blogging about my own discoveries, but it will be great to read about your own experiences, experiments and successes. I love the pictures, they really help me visualize edible landscaping vignettes and groupings as well as appreciate the sheer beauty of food! I hope to read more in the near future.

June 9, 2009 - 12:40 am

Rosalind - Thanks for the insightful comments. I will continue to add more content and examples in the next year. Thanks for reading!

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