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How to Select and Use Edible Flowers in Cooking and Baking

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Flowers in a garden salad

Flowers in a garden salad

Flowers Aren't Just for Making Honey

Eat flowers? You might think this sounds a bit odd, but have you ever enjoyed one of these?

  • Freshly picked zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and quickly fried in a tempura-like coating. The cheese within is melting and creamy; the tempura coating, delicately crisp and paper thin.
  • Herbs de Provence pan-roasted chicken with crisp skin and succulent meat, flavored with marjoram, savory, fennel, and lavender blossoms.
  • Lebanese shawarma meatballs, spiced and fragrant with ginger, cardamon, and citrusy sumac.
  • Floral-scented chamomile latte poured into a bone china cup. The brew is sweetened with vanilla; the soothing aromas delivering a feeling of calm and relaxation.
  • Melt-in-the-mouth buttery shortbread cookies flecked with lemon zest and lavender blossoms and served with a scoop of saffron and rose water custard ice cream.

All of these are made with the blossoms of flowers. But that's just the beginning. Let's look at a list of the flowers that you can eat, how to gather then, and how to use them in cooking and baking.

Edible Flowers (A Sampling, Not a Comprehensive List)

Name of FlowerWhich Part(s) to UseTaste

Angelica

petals

hints of anise and carrot

Bachelor's button

petals (remove green parts)

grassy

Bee balm

petals

sweet

Begonia, tuberous

leaves, petals and stems

citrus

Begonia, wax

leaves and petals

slightly bitter

Borage

leaves and petals

cucumber

Calendula

petals

spicy, peppery

Carnation

petals

spicy

Chives

petals and stems

onion

Chrysanthemum

blanched blossoms

cauliflower

Clover

raw

snap peas

Cornflower (see Bachelor's button)

 

 

Dandelion

young flowers or buds, raw or steamed or young leaves

sweet, honey-like

Daylilies

blossom (eat in moderation)

sweet lettuce, melon

Dianthus (see carnation)

 

 

Fuschia

blooms and berries

citrus

Impatiens

blossom

sweet

Lavender

petals

floral

Lilac

blossom

fragrant, lemony

Marigold (see calendula)

 

 

Pansies

petals

sweet, grassy

Nasturtium

blossoms, leaves

peppery

Rose

petals (remove white part)

strawberries, green apples (dark varieties have more flavor)

Scented geraniums

petals

flavor corresponds to scent

Violets

flowers and leaves

sweet, floral

How to Safely Collect Flowers

  • Not all flowers are edible! In fact, some can make you extremely ill (for example, foxglove). Check your lists and be absolutely certain of the identity.
  • Never collect flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. When in doubt, don't collect.
  • Never collect flowers from the roadside.
  • Follow carefully the guidelines on which part(s) of the plant to use.
  • Use flowers sparingly, They should be an entertaining garnish, not the main star of the show.
Goat cheese-stuffed fried zucchini blossoms

Goat cheese-stuffed fried zucchini blossoms

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Lindsay admits that creating these little bites takes a pinch of patience and a tad of tenacity. Stuffing a zucchini blossom is not as easy as, let's say, plopping carnitas into a taco shell. But, they so so very rewarding.

First, remove the stamen (that's the long stalk in the middle). Then grab your piping bag. Yes, you really need one of those. It will make life so much easier. (OK, in a pinch you can substitute a heavy-duty ziplock plastic bag, filled, closed, and one bottom corner snipped a little to allow the filling to squirt out). Next twist the tops of the blossoms a little so the filling doesn't escape. Then, batter and fry your goat cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms.

Roasted herbs de Provence chicken

Roasted herbs de Provence chicken

Roasted Herbs de Provence Chicken

I think that learning how to roast a chicken is one of the first things we learn how to do as a "grown-up" cook. It's actually pretty easy, it's economical, it smells amazing, and it's so rewarding. And, if you are having guests, despite all those easy things it delivers a wow factor, every time.

Do you want to take your basic roast chicken to the next level, to a double-wow? Use herbs de Provence as your dry rub seasoning. That's what Caroline does with her roasted herbs de Provence chicken.

Do you need a recipe for herbs de Provence? Maybe you can't find it at your grocery store. I'll bet you can find these seasonings, or perhaps you already have them in your pantry. Here is a recipe from The Spruce Eats that will make a cup of the seasoning for you. Enough to use again, and again, and again. You will love it.

Shawarma spiced meatballs

Shawarma spiced meatballs

Shawarma Spiced Meatballs

A bounteous assembly of herbs and spices are used to make these shawarma spiced meatballs. Please don't allow that list of ingredients dissuade you from making these amazing meatballs. They absolutely shout "Mediterranean" and would make an amazing meal with a side of naan, couscous, rice, or quinoa.

Chamomile tea latte

Chamomile tea latte

Chamomile Tea Latte

Jee is a certified tea sommelier and creates the most lovely hot beverages. Her chamomile tea latte is so warm and cozy. If I had a cold I'd certainly want to wrap my hands around a large mug of this. But, don't wait until you are sick. It's so creamy and comforting, you deserve this now.

Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • Garnish small rosemary sprigs
  • Special equipment parchment paper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, lavender, and zest. In a separate bowl mix together butter, honey, and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture; mix until dough resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Gather dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it just comes together, about 8 times. Halve dough and form each half into a 5-inch disk. Roll out 1 disk (keep remaining dough at room temperature) between 2 sheets of parchment into a 9-inch round (trim as necessary).
  4. Remove top sheet of parchment and transfer dough on bottom sheet of parchment to a baking sheet. Score dough into 8 wedges by pricking dotted lines with a fork, then mark edges decoratively. Arrange rosemary sprigs (if using) decoratively on top of dough, pressing lightly to help adhere, and sprinkle dough with 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
  5. Repeat with 2nd round of dough.
  6. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Slide shortbread on parchment to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a cutting board and cut along score marks with a large heavy knife.
Green salad with edible flowers

Green salad with edible flowers

Green Salad With Edible Flowers

This simple green salad would be a lovely start to a garden party or tea. Tender baby spinach is adorned with delicate violets or pansies and dressed with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, Dijon, olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Nasturtium, beetroot, and walnut salad

Nasturtium, beetroot, and walnut salad

Nasturtium Beetroot Salad

Here's another salad to inspire you.The colors of this nasturtium-beetroot salad are striking—that alone should entice you to make this. But it's also vegan and gluten-free. If you choose your blossoms carefully you should be able to create an amazing display of color. Nasturtiums range in hue from cream to yellow to orange to a deep mahogany.

Frozen wine cubes with edible flowers

Frozen wine cubes with edible flowers

Frozen Wine Cubes With Edible Flowers

Are you hosting a Summer garden party and want to keep the Pinot chilled without diluting it with ice? Float a few of these blossom-studded ice cubes in each glass. They're so pretty you will be making up excuses to use them.

Chive blossom butter

Chive blossom butter

Chive Blossom Butter

Chives are cousins to shallots, onions, and garlic. This chive butter is a lovely substitute for simple garlic butter. The flavor is not as assertive as garlic—it's a more delicate taste—but what it lacks in boldness it makes up for in the pretty display it can make on your party table.

Cream cheese and chive sandwiches with edible flowers

Cream cheese and chive sandwiches with edible flowers

Cream Cheese and Chive Sandwiches With Edible Flowers

These open-face cream cheese and chive sandwiches are almost too pretty to eat. There are only 5 ingredients, so use the best quality you can find. Goat cheese cream cheese is worth looking for, get your hands on a really good-quality loaf of French bread, and select the prettiest flowers and herb leaves.

Herb and Edible Flower Pasta

Aimee's edible flower pasta is made by laminating fresh herb leaves and edible flowers between two thin layers of fresh, homemade pasta. Yes, it is a labor of love but it is not difficult. Set aside a leisurely weekend afternoon to do this.

Flower pasta is not the place for your rich mushroom bechamel or meaty ragu. You don't want to cover this pasta with a thick sauce. A drizzle of browned butter or grassy extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt is all you will want to adorn these pictures on a plate.

Deviled egg baskets with edible flowers

Deviled egg baskets with edible flowers

Deviled Egg Baskets With Edible Flowers

Just in time for Easter, these deviled eggs are garnished with tiny flowers with a chive sprout for the handle. Chive blossoms are in season as are violas, lilacs, and other herb flowers—all of which can be used to decorate these "baskets."

Sources

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 08, 2020:

Liza there are many to choose from. If you live near a Whole Foods you should be able to find some there.

Liza from USA on March 08, 2020:

Such a great article, I'm glad I came across it! I have been searching for information about edible flowers for decoration on top of the desserts I made. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 07, 2020:

Thank you, Eiddwen. I would love to know what types of flowers you have. You are slightly further north than me.

Eiddwen from Wales on March 07, 2020:

Very interesting and useful. Definitely one to save for future reference.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 06, 2020:

Thelma, I use violas much as you use hibiscus. They are beautiful and grow wild in my garden.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on March 06, 2020:

Wow! This hub is very delicious and informative. I always make a salad out of hibiscus flowers when I am in my home in the Philippines as well as making tea out of this flower. I didn´t know that pansy flower is edible, too. I would love to try some of these edible flowers. Thank you for sharing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 03, 2020:

This sounds wonderful. I must admit that I did not even know what a banana flower looks like (I did a Google search). Yes, you are correct that flowers need to be used in moderation. Thank you for writing again.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 03, 2020:

In India, in some areas, people use rose petals, pumpkin flowers, banana flowers in miscellaneous preparations but they are in occasional use.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 02, 2020:

Nancy, I'm so glad that you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Nancy Hinchliff on March 02, 2020:

Thanks for an interesting and informative article.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 02, 2020:

Sha, my favorite way to use herbs de Provence is roast chicken, but it works equally well on salmon. I would think you could also use it on pork chops or a pork roast. Great on oven-roasted root vegetables (carrots and parsnips, mmm).

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 02, 2020:

Donna, I've missed you. So glad you found this article. I'm looking forward to being able to gather flowers in my garden. Things are just now starting to bud out.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 02, 2020:

Linda, I never knew that so many of the beauties we plant in our gardens are edible. These dishes all look so pretty. I've never eaten flowers, have you, Linda? On the cooking/baking shows I watch, we're often warned not to use too much lavender because it can have a soapy taste in excess.

I have a bottle of Herbs de Provence in my pantry, but have no idea why. I've never used it. Besides the roasted chicken above, what are some other uses for the blend?

Donna Rayne from Greenwood, In on March 02, 2020:

Linda, all the dishes look so tasty! I want some of the green salad with edible flowers! I loved your article and it was very informative and I bet the house will smell lovely with all the fresh ingredients! Great article too that I enjoyed reading!

Blessings,

Donna Rayne

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 02, 2020:

Bill, that sounds delightful. I'll whip up a spinach nasturtium salad and bring it down to you for lunch. How does that sound?

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 02, 2020:

I've actually eaten nasturtiums. Not bad! I wouldn't make a habit of it, but not bad at all. :) Plus they're pretty, which is more than you can say about spinach. Just sayin'

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 02, 2020:

Flourish, that's exactly why I published this now. Great minds think alike.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 02, 2020:

This is perfect for Easter. Can’t you imagine a nice salad or eggs, pasta, or tea with flowers?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 02, 2020:

Thank you Umesh. Do you use flowers in cooking or baking?

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 01, 2020:

Exhaustive and informative. Good presentation.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 01, 2020:

Eric, I'd love to know what is in your salad.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 01, 2020:

When we visit our family land in Oak Creek Az. my kids insist I make our "edible weed" salad. This was a wonderful article. So interesting. Thank you.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 01, 2020:

Pamela I am so darned ready for Spring!

Blossoms are just starting to appear in my little corner of the world. Cherry trees are budding out, daffodils are up, crocus are blooming, and I am smiling. This article just shouts "Springtime" to me, and I'm so happy.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 01, 2020:

The salads with the flowers are so pretty! I knew there were some edible flowers but I certainly didn't know there were so many. I'm sure most of these dishes tastes wonderful but I can't get over how beautiful they are. I think I need to broaden my horizons.

manatita44 from london on March 01, 2020:

I thought they were, Dear. Must I tell you everything? Anyway, if you are a singer and dancer, then you and mom will have a great time in heaven. But why the hurry? She's already there but for you and I, we still have work to do.

Mom was a lover of life and a great Karma Yogi, like you. I have mentioned four Yogic Paths in the Hubs you don't like to read but basically, some people are by nature doers - the Path of selfless action - and others are of a devotion bent, like Dora or Lori. Some are both, like me. Ha ha. Have a great Sunday!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 01, 2020:

Manatita, you are the first to enter my kitchen today. Welcome. I am certain that your mother and I will have much to talk and laugh about in Heaven (but we probably won't be roasting chicken).

Herb flowers can be eaten but some are really not very tasty. Yes, digitalis is bad news. Even the deer leave it alone.

I must remember to make those eggs (last photo) at Eastertime.

manatita44 from london on March 01, 2020:

What a Feng Shui orientated Hub! So colourful! Shaloo would be proud of you!

I have eaten flowers. Don't remember which ones though. Perhaps mint and hibiscus, but some were nice-tasting, slightly sweet. That last picture looks like something a creative like the man from El Bulli would do. Delicioso!

I like the green salad with edible flowers and the beet plus. The chive blossom really looks like ice cream. Camomile tea latte? Wow!

Now this roast chicken is what I'm talking about. Took me back 38 years, just like my mom did it. She was the best, Linda. Sorry.

Your advice on caution with eating flowers are not to be taken lightly. Digitalis (Foxglove) can kill!