Edible Flowers: Which Are Safe to Eat and How to Put Them to Use

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Stelle da Smit

Edible flowers are everywhere: Whether the latest spring bloom, vegetables, herbs or woody plants – these springtime favorites go far beyond their beauty. Utopia’s informative guide presents a range of edible flowers, tells you where to find them and how to grow your own.

Many flowers can be enjoyed straight from the garden. Depending on the plant, you can use petals or even entire blossoms in food preparation – and not just as decoration! With aromas ranging from from sugary-sweet to spicy pepper, edible flowers add a special note to any meal or beverage.

Natural remedies also depend heavily on a select number of botanicals: tea made from lavender blossoms is said to ease stomach and digestive issues as well as insomnia. Hollyhock tea can help treat coughs and other breathing disorders. Chamomile tea is a very popular herbal remedy for its wide range of curative properties.

Which Flowers are Edible?

Edible flowers which flowers are edible?
There is a wide range of edible flowers from spring blossoms to vegetables. Here’s what you need to know to get started. (Photo: © Utopia )

Whether specific flowers or plants are edible is not always all too evident. If you’re planning to grow or harvest edible flowers yourself, you should educate yourself carefully beforehand in order to be certain which plant it is you harvest. In case of doubt: let it be.

The following plants and herbs produce edible flowers:

  • arugula
  • bachelor’s button
  • borage
  • buckwheat
  • burnet
  • calendula
  • chives
  • daisy
  • dandelion
  • elderberry
  • garlic chives
  • jasmine
  • lavender
  • nasturtium
  • rose
  • thyme
  • violet
  • wild garlic
  • wild violas
  • yarrow
  • zucchini

What Can I Do with Edible Flowers?

Edible flowers dandelion schnapps
Edible flowers recipes are numerous. How about dandelion schnapps? (Photo: © Utopia / M. Öhlenbach)

Edible flowers have many applications in the kitchen – you can use them fresh, dried, raw, fried, turned into syrups or jellies, or preserved in vinegar or alcohol. Herbs and vegetable flowers add a fine note to savory dishes; flower blossoms are an excellent choice in sweet dishes and drinks.

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Freshly-picked blossoms from arugula, bachelor’s buttons, borage, daisies, and nasturtium can be used to spice up a green salad. You can also add chopped flowers to herb dips or butters. These go great spread on bread or baguettes, served alongside baked or boiled potatoes, steamed vegetables, and grilled meats.

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Elderberry flowers can be dipped in batter, fried, and served as a main dish. The same goes for zucchini: fill the blossoms with cream cheese (or your preferred vegan alternative) and enjoy with salad.

Edible Flowers in Desserts

Edible flowers dessert recipes
Get creative and decorate your desserts with candied rose petals or violets. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Yulia Khlebnikova)

Of course, edible flowers can also be used as edible decorations in a variety of ways: those who prefer it sweet can decorate cakes and desserts with candied rose petals or violets. Adding dried flowers from bachelor’s button, calendula, lavender, and rose can turn homemade candies and chocolates into real show stoppers. They also make an excellent addition to herbed salts and cookies.

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But don’t just reserve them for your plate – edible flowers are a gorgeous addition to many drinks. How about a cup of homemade hot cocoa with some dried lavender flowers? Dried roses and jasmine flowers are a delicious extra for green teas; herbal mixes get a pop of color from bachelor’s button and calendula.

Fresh blossoms frozen in ice cubes in a summertime cocktail add a unique touch. Fresh dandelion blossoms can be turned into liqueur or dessert wine. Fresh violets can be used to flavor vinegar or sugar or turned into flavored simple syrup. Elderberry flowers are another great addition to a simple syrup – unless you’re using them to make jelly or simply fry and eat them!

Where Can I Find Edible Flowers?

Edilbe flowers where to find and pick your own
Be careful where you pick your own edible flowers – some places are better than others. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Krisztina Papp)

Purchase, collect, grow your own: there are lots of ways to find edible flowers. Not every option, however, is ideal.

If you collect edible flowers in the wild, always ensure that you have identified them correctly. Not everything that attracts bees is edible!

It also pays to be particular about where you choose to collect edible flowers: Try to avoid heavily-traveled roadsides, anywhere dogs may do their business, and fertilized fields.

Time is of the essence when harvesting edible flowers: anything past its prime or wilted won’t have much flavor. Ideally, you should collect your blooms on a sunny morning when the petals are fully open and use them as soon as possible.

The blossoms will stay fresh for a few hours in a jar or bowl filled with cold water. Since tender petals are easily damaged, it’s best to collect flowers in an open basket to preserve their full beauty. Before working with edible flowers, carefully rinse them, or at minimum shake them well – you don’t want to accidentally ingest any insects who may be hiding!

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Edible Flowers: Plant Your Own

Edible flowers plant your own at home grow them yourself
Many edible flowers are easy to grow at home with little to no maintenance required. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Micheile Henderson)

Naturally, you can also plant your own edible flowers. Most varieties need little space and can be planted not only in the garden, but also in planters, pots, or window boxes on your balcony.

Most of these plants are easy to care for and demand little more than water and sunlight. Some plants even benefit from being planted alongside edible flowers: Good neighbors include lavender and roses, borage and strawberries, tomatoes and marigolds, and zucchini and nasturtiums.

by Alexa Brosius and Melanie Oehlenbach

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This article was translated from German into English: Essbare Blüten: mehr als ein Augenschmaus

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