There have been many times where I have gone out to lunch or dinner in a fine dining restaurant and the salads have come with beautiful flowers either as garnishes or actually infused into the salad itself.
It has always been a fun treat either way, though sometimes I have been the only one brave or eager enough to try them. The flavors range from sweet to tart to bitter, but they are always interesting.
Why limit these experiences to just dining out?
Flowers enhance any garden or home… and if they double as edibles, all the better.
So which flowers can you eat, and which ones taste good?
This is a fairly comprehensive list along with some ideas on how to use them:
Begonia: Leaves and flowers are edible and have a sour- citrus taste. The stems can be used in place of Rhubarb.
Reported Health Benefits: Bronchitis, Skin issues, menstrual disorders, Swelling.
Carnations: Can be used in candy, wine, or as cake decorations. The petals are sweet. These petals are one of the secret ingredients used to make Chartreuse (a French Liquor).
Reported Health Benefits: Anti-inflammatory effect, helping with hair loss, act as a muscle relaxant, and aid in the treatment of excess gas.
Chrysanthemums: Tangy and slightly bitter – they can taste like mildly peppery cauliflower. Petals can be used in salads or to flavor vinegars.
Reported Health Benefits: Acid Reflux, Dizziness, AntiCancer, Sedative, Antispasmodic
Clover: Sweet and taste much like anise. – Has been said to help with gout, rheumatism, improves fingernails, coughs and colds. Use bright healthy flowers.
Reported Health Benefits: Blood thinner, Uterine Fibroids, Hot flashes.
Dandelions: Sweetest when picked young. Honey like flavor. The mature flowers are bitter. They are good raw or steamed and can also be made in to wine. If serving rice mix in petals.
Reported Health Benefits: Acne, Herpes, Liver diseases, Water Retention, Constipation, Gallstones, Age spots, Alcoholism, Anorexia.
Day Lilies: Slightly sweet vegetable flavor like lettuce. Beautiful in salads or a top cakes.
Reported Health Benefits: Cancer treatment, detoxifies arsenic poisoning, powerful antioxidant. *May cause hallucinations in higher doses.
Daisy: These are mostly used for looks, they taste very bitter.
Reported Health Benefits: Arthritis, cold, cough, Diarrhea, Indigestion, wound care.
Fuchsia: Slightly acidic flavor. Great as a garnish due to vibrant colors. Berries are also edible.
Reported Health Benefits: None reported
Gladiolus: Nondescript flavor like iceberg lettuce. Petals are great in a salad or used individually as “bowls” for serving light desserts like mousses.
Reported Health Benefits: Regular bowel movements.
Apple Blossoms: Petals can be candied or used as a garnish. *Eat in moderation. the flowers may contain a cyanide precursor.
Reported Health Benefits: Improves digestive, remove excess fat, clears acne, lighten pigmentation, ease nerves and revitalized blood
Banana Blossoms: (sometimes called Banana Hearts) They can be cooked or eaten raw. The outside covering needs to be removed until you reach a white tender part. It should then be sliced and let sit in water till the sap drains.
Reported Health Benefits: Helps Lactating mothers, Great for pregnant women, diabetes, menstrual issues, weight loss.
Citrus Blossoms: Distilled citrus flower water is used in Middle Eastern pastries and beverages.
Reported Health Benefits: Unable to find.
Elderberry Blossoms: Sweet smell and taste. Do not wash them, it will remove some of the taste. These are great for making wine.
Reported Health Benefits: Unable to find.
Angelica: Tastes similar to licorice. Petals for salads, and leaves can be made into tea.
Reported Health Benefits: Bloating, Pain, Endometriosis, Migraine, Colitis.
Borage: Blossoms and leaves have a cucumbery taste. They go well in lemonade, sorbets, chilled soups and dips.
Reported Health Benefits: Auto Immune diseases, Lupus, Menopause, MS, Bronchitis, Flu, Sore throat.
Jasmine: Traditionally used for scenting teas. *Please make sure you have the right plant if you use Jasmine! (Jasmine Officinale). The “False Jasmine” are a completely different plant. “Gelsemium” and “Loganiaceae” are too poisonous for human consumption.
Reported Health Benefits: Acne, Anti Cancer, Bipolar Disorder, Constipation, aphrodisiac,
Lavender: Sweet, floral flavor with lemon and citrus notes. Can be used in lemonade, champagne, with chocolates, in cakes, flans or custards.
Reported Health Benefits: Grief, Rosacea, Sore throat, tooth ache, whooping cough, Relaxation, sleep, Pain, Allergies, Anxiety.
Hibiscus: Has cranberry like flavors and overtones. Petals are great in salad, or dried and used as tea.
Reported Health Benefits: DO NOT USE IF PREGNANT. (Abortifacient), High Blood Pressure, Abscess, Alopecia, Baldness, Burns, Cancer.
Honeysuckle: Sweet honey like flavor. Only the flowers are edible. The berries are HIGHLY poisonous.
Reported Health Benefits: Blocked Fallopian Tubes, Cancer, Depression, Fever, Flu, Tick Bites, Gout, Infections, Blood Impurities.
Impatiens: Sweet flavor. Great in salads or floated in drinks.
Reported Health Benefits: Used in Bach Flower Remedies to keep a positive calm state of mind.
Johnny Jump Ups: Mild wintergreen flavor. Salads, cakes, served with soft cheeses, drinks, soups.
Reported Health Benefits: Skin diseases, Epilepsy
Lilac: Very fragrant and slightly bitter. Great in salads or crystalized in egg white and sugar.
Reported Health Benefits: Rashes, Cuts, other skin ailments.
Marigold: Can be used as a substitute for Saffron in cooking or placed in a salad.
Reported Health Benefits: Ulcers, Eczema, Cuts, Wounds
Pansy: Sweet grassy flavor, great in fruit salads or green salads.
Reported Health Benefits: Skin diseases.
Peony: Boil petals and use as tea or add fresh to salads.
Reported Health Benefits: Cholesterol Lowering, Cuts cancer risk on certain cancers, antioxidant, diabetes.
Queen Anne’s Lace: Also known as Wild Carrot or Bishop’s Lace. Light carrot flavor, great in salads. BE CAREFUL: It looks much like Poison Hemlock. please be sure you know what you are eating.
Reported Health Benefits: Anemia, Chicken Pox, Oily Skin, Athlete’s Foot, Schizophrenia, Stomach issues.
Roses: Flavor depends on soil, rose type, and growing conditions. Great in salads, desserts, perfumed butters or sweet spreads. Rose jelly is wonderful.
Reported Health Benefits: Antiseptic, Astringent, anti inflammatory, antibacterial, nausea, fatigue, dehydration, infections, rashes, cooling, cleans blood.
Geraniums: Flavors range by color from lemony to spicy. *Note Citronella variety isn’t edible. Sprinkle over desserts, in drinks or freeze in ice cubes for a decorative touch.
Reported Health Benefits: Dry Lips, Grief, Age Spots, High Blood Pressure, Anxiety, Pain, Blurred Vision
Sunflower: Unopened flower buds can be eaten like artichokes after steaming. They have a bitter sweet flavor.
Reported Health Benefits: Aging, Bad Breath, Bronchitis, Throat issues.
Tulips: Taste like sweet lettuce, or fresh baby peas. *some people are allergic. Do not eat the bulbs ever. Petals only.
Reported Health Benefits: Unable to find.
Chamomile. English chamomile has small, daisy-like flowers with an apple-like flavor. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you might want to avoid chamomile.
Reported Health Benefits: ADHD, Bloating, Bunion, Hay Fever, Insomnia, Stomach ache, MS, Bloating.
Violets: Sweet perfumed flavor. Leaves are fantastic in salads. They can also be placed on desserts or in iced drinks. They are also tasty when cooked like spinach.
Reported Health Benefits: Cough, Headache, Esophageal Cancer, Pain.
Special notes on eating edible flowers:
- Make SURE you know what you are eating and that it is edible.
- No flowers are safe if not grown organically (no pesticide)
- Wash all flowers before eating them.
- Start with small quantities as your body is not familiar with them.
- Remove pistols and stamens from flowers before eating them.
- If you have allergies, introduce gradually to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
- Don’t eat flowers from florists.
- Don’t eat flowers picked from the side of the road.
- Pick flowers in the morning when their water content is the highest.
Salads are self explanatory, just get creative.
Here is a delicious recipe for Strawberry-Rose Cupcakes to get you started on using flowers in your baking. *Thank you to www.myrecipes.com*
Strawberry jam and rose water are baked directly into the vanilla cupcakes to infuse delicate, fragrant flavor into these party-ready cakes. Garnish with fresh rose petals in the colors of your party.
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup strawberry jam
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. rose water* (find with cocktail or baking supplies)
Cream Cheese-Rose Frosting (separate directions below!)
2 1/2 cups small rose petals (organically grown)
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line 16 muffin cups with liners. Beat butter and sugar with a stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat until well blended.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Gradually beat into butter mixture until well blended.
3. Whisk together jam and rose water to taste in a small bowl. Spread 2 heaping tbsp. batter in each liner. Top with 1 tsp. jam mixture, then another 2 heaping tbsp. batter, carefully spreading it to cover jam.
4. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted toward the edge comes out clean, 25 to 27 minutes. Let cool in pans 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Spread with frosting and decorate with rose petals.
To make the Cream Cheese-Rose Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. rose water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In a bowl with a mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, rose water, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth.
For additional recipes and ideas I suggest google searching “Edible Flower Recipes” and poking around. You will be amazed at what you find!