Gardening and cooking are two passions that beautifully intersect when you explore the world of edible flowers. These delightful blossoms not only add a burst of colour to your garden but also bring unique flavours and aesthetics to your culinary creations. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the enchanting world of edible flowers and some creative ways of using them in your kitchen.
Why Choose Edible Flowers?
Edible flowers are more than just a feast for the eyes; they are a feast for the palate. Each type of edible flower offers a distinct flavour profile, ranging from sweet and floral to peppery and tangy.
Incorporating these blossoms into your dishes can elevate them to new heights, making your culinary adventures more exciting and visually appealing.
Top Choices for Edible Flowers
Violas and Pansies
Violas and Pansies are more than just pretty faces. Their delicate, vibrantly coloured petals are perfect for adorning cakes and desserts. Elevate your culinary creations by scattering these petals atop floral-infused iced teas.
Sow Violas and Pansies in mid-summer to early winter, using seedling trays.
Not only a great companion plant for the veggie patch, but nasturtiums are also edible! The vibrant flowers in sunset shades of orange, yellow and red can be eaten whole and have a spicy peppery taste, similar to radish. Once your plant produces seeds, consider pickling them as a clever alternative to capers.
Use them to add a punch of colour and flavour to a simple garden salad or mix into butter or mayonnaise. For something a little more adventurous, stuff whole nasturtium flowers with a mix of cream cheese, garlic, and chives, and then simply chill before serving.
Before planting nasturtium seeds, soak them in water for 8 hours or less. Then, plant them directly in their permanent position. Expect these seedlings to emerge in 14-21 days.
Zucchini flowers are beloved by chefs and food enthusiasts alike. Stuffed and fried with a variety of fillings, they transform into delightful pockets of goodness. You can utilise the larger female flowers (with a small zucchini attached) or the smaller male pollinator flowers, both offering culinary potential.
Sow zucchinis in spring and summer, ensuring soil temperatures hover around 21 degrees for successful germination. Water the soil beneath your zucchini plant, avoiding the leaves to prevent powdery mildew, which thrives in warm, humid conditions.
Lavender is not only visually pleasing but also a delightful addition to your baked goods. Incorporate dried lavender flowers into cakes or your next jam recipe. For a fragrant twist, infuse lavender into ice cream for a delicate floral flavour.
These plants flourish in warm outdoor locations and benefit from ground-level watering. Regularly remove spent flowers to encourage fresh growth.
Roses have been long admired for their signature scent, and are just as pleasing to the palette with a similar sweet, perfumed flavour. With an endless range of colours and textures, roses are a versatile ingredient to use in jams, syrups, cakes, custard, cookies, and ice-cream.
All roses are edible, but the flavour gets more intense the darker the petals.
To make candied rose petals simply brush each petal on both sides with egg white, coat with sugar and leave to dry completely on a wire rack or wax paper.
Embrace the versatility of edible flowers in your culinary endeavours:
- Use them as salad garnishes, cake decorations, and in beverages.
- Infuse desserts with floral notes.
- Freeze them into decorative ice cubes.
- Enhance cordials and champagne with a floral touch.
- Brew flower teas for a unique experience.
- Press them into soft cheeses.
- Add a floral touch to chocolate bark.
- Experiment with infusing spirits.
Preparing Edible Flowers
Harvest your flowers early in the morning when they’re freshest. Ideally, use them immediately; otherwise, store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
When you’re ready to savour the flowers, gently wash them in cool water, shaking off any excess moisture, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Smaller flowers like violas can be enjoyed whole, while for larger blooms, it’s best to remove the sepal, stamens, and pistil, as the petals harbour the most flavour. Revive wilted flowers by briefly soaking them in ice water.
Important Note: Some flowers can be toxic or trigger allergic reactions. If you’re uncertain about a flower’s edibility, refrain from consuming it and seek professional advice.
Common TOXIC flowers include Daffodil, Poppy, Foxglove, Bluebell, Larkspur, Lily of the Valley, and Oleander.
When it comes to consuming flowers:
- Source them from areas free of chemical sprays.
- Consume flowers in moderation, starting with a small taste to ensure you have no adverse reactions.