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.
- 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.