Eating flowers has been a tradition throughout the world for millennia. Roses and orange flowers have been used in many Middle Eastern and Persian dishes; cherry blossoms and chrysanthemums are used in Japan. In the last three hundred years, butterfly-like nasturtiums (originally from Peru) have been used in Europe and North American cuisine.
Edible flowers are the perfect addition to your garden or work great in a kitchen container garden. Flowers such as violets and calendulas make beautifully colourful and tasty garnishes to salads and raw desserts. Nasturtiums, a favourite of many, have a wonderfully spicy, peppery flavour. Artichoke, broccoli, and cauliflower are some flowers we eat as vegetables without even realizing they are flowers.
Organic flower seeds are available at Choices and Capers and some garden stores later this spring. See below for recipes, edible and non-edible lists, and rules for eating edible flowers.
Caution: Not all flowers are edible. Some are poisonous either naturally or from toxic chemical pesticides.
Edible Flower Salad & Raspberry Vinaigrette
In a salad bowl:
4 cups of romaine lettuce, torn or chopped
4 oz mixed salad greens
1/4 cup edible flower petals
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil and tarragon)
1/4 cup pinenuts or pecans
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup red pepper, sliced or chopped
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp shallots, miced
1/8 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 tsp dry tarragon leaves
1 1/2 tsp honey or soft dates
2 tsp parsley, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
Blend ingredients in food processor or vitamix until smooth. Toss with salad.
RULES FOR EDIBLE FLOWERS – VERY IMPORTANT:
1. Not all flowers are edible. Some are poisonous. Learn the difference.
2. Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible and non-toxic.
3. Eat only flowers that have been grown organically.
4. Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers unless you know they’ve been maintained organically.
5. Do not eat flowers if you have hay fever, asthma or allergies.
6. Do not eat flowers growing on the side of the road.
7. Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Eat only the petals of the larger flowers.
8. Introduce flowers into your diet the way you would new foods to a baby – one at a time in small quantities.
9. The flowers may be edible, but that does not mean that the berries and leaves are edible.
Note: Pregnant women should avoid all strong herbs and no plant should be ingested in excess by anyone at anytime. None of these plants should be eaten unless they have been grown organically.
Some of the more common EDIBLE FLOWERS* in your garden:
Bachelor Buttons (Cornflower)
Cilantro / Coriander
Cornflower / Bachelor Buttons
Johnny Jump Up
Rose of Sharon
An Incomplete List of POISONOUS FLOWERS* Commonly Found in the Garden:
Golden Chain Tree
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Lily of the Valley
Star of Bethlehem
*Flower lists compiled by Jennifer A. Wickes of www.betterbudgeting.com.