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A guide to edible flowers

A guide to edible flowers

I firmly believe that outdoor dining is one of life’s great pleasures. A couple of years after I started gardening for a living I realised that my internal thermostat had been permanently recalibrated, presumably thanks to spending every waking moment outdoors. Everyone’s house seemed too warm, even in winter, so it feels acceptable to have picnics all year round. Even I will grudgingly concede, however, that summer is really the best time to do it.

Growing your own food adds an extra dimension to the experience. While doubtless it’d be lovely to stretch out a languid arm to pluck grapes from the ancient vine shading the table, frankly I feel pretty chuffed cutting salad leaves from the trough by the back door or getting a handful of raspberries to scatter over ice cream. Feeding people is always lovely, but if you’ve grown some of the ingredients yourself, the pride makes that pleasure greater still.

Thyme

I normally talk about fruit and veg in these pages, but believe it or not there are a whole host of edible flowers out there too: you might even be able to raid the flowerbed as you picnic on the lawn. In summer, salads are very much to the fore, so try adding some blooms to the bowl for the colour, fragrance and, in some cases, flavour they bring.

Caveat time: do make sure of your identification, as not all flowers are edible (although it’s hard to go wrong with ones I include here). Unless they are very small, in general only the petals are eaten. Flowers of the common culinary herbs can be eaten whole but their flavour is strong, so use them sparingly. It’s best to pick any flower at the last minute because they wilt quickly, and always taste them before adding to your food, because even edibles can sometimes be bitter or overpowering.

Marigold

Pot marigold Calendula officinalis, Signet marigold Tagetes tenuifolia, Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus and Borage Borago officinalis are well known friends of the vegetable gardener, since all attract insects that are beneficial to crops. Both marigolds contribute a bright splash of orange to any green salad (though my friend Karen also sets them in fudge, to striking effect). The flowers and miniature lily-pad leaves of Nasturtium have a nice peppery taste, and the seeds can be pickled like capers. The flowers of Borage are like little blue stars. When I was little, my mother used to set them in ice cubes and pop them in my lemonade. I’ve since discovered that they will float equally well in gin and vodka-based drinks, as well as in Pimm’s. Historically, they were added to cups of wine as a herbal pick-me-up.

Borage

Other common edibles include the lawn daisy, roses, day lily (Hemerocallis spp. – these can be stuffed and cooked), hollyhock (flowers and cooked buds), primrose, viola and pansy. Pansies are a staple of winter bedding, so if you catch the edible-flower bug this summer you’ll be pleased to know that there are even some with which you can grace your winter salads. Chrysanthemum flowers are edible but may need blanching first. The leaves of ‘Chrysanthemum greens’ or “Shungiku” are a popular salad ingredient and steamed green in Asia.

Daylillies

On the vegetable patch, chicories, salsify and scorzonera all produce attractive and palatable flowers in their second year. Chive flowers impart a mild onion flavour, but those of onions and garlic themselves are a bit overpowering. Broad beans, runner beans and pea blooms have a delicate leguminous taste, but avoid the decorative sweet pea flower, which is toxic. Fennel is aniseedy and all brassica flowers can be eaten – my favourite being rocket, which is peppery rather than cabbagey – and has a discernible sweetness due to the pollen and nectar it contains.

Courgette flowers

Great fun can be had with courgette flowers, which can be stuffed, dipped in tempura batter and fried. Both male and female flowers can be eaten, though the latter, identified by the presence of an immature courgette at the base, are better simply because there is more to eat. It’s a little fiddly to do but a real show-stopper that’s worth the effort. It’s also a superb way to keep on top of the inevitable courgette glut that comes at this time of year.

Get foraging – we’d love to see photos of your flowery food this summer.


The Ultimate Guide to Edible Flowers + 5 Amazing Recipes to Get Started

S pring is almost here, which means that flowers are just starting to bloom. Whether you like to grow flowers to decorate your landscape or to add a bouquet to your kitchen table, flowers are versatile, especially in your kitchen. Did you know that most of the flowers we grow in our gardens are actually edible?

It's true! Flowers aren't just for decorating and looking pretty-some flower varieties are completely edible and dang delicious. But before you start grabbing flowers out of the ground and chomping away, there's a few things you have to be careful of before indulging in floral flavor.

First and foremost, only eat flowers which have not been treated with pesticides. You can either grow your own or buy the flowers in the store. Skip over the florist area in the grocery store and head directly to the produce. The flowers you are able to buy in bunches are usually treated and are not edible.

Like the chart from ProFlowers, here's a list of some popular flowers which are both edible and beautiful. Each flower has a distinct taste which can either be used as decor in a dish or used as a flavoring agent.

Flowers like violets, violas, micro dianthus, karma orchid, and corn flowers look great on a cake. While marigolds, chrysanthemums, carnations, and borage blossoms are the perfect garnish in salads. The borage blossom even has a taste somewhat like a cucumber, elevating the salad in both looks and taste.

Preparing something special to drink? Fill your ice cube tray with rose petals, elderflowers, violas and micro dianthus. Fill with water (or some punch) and freeze to make beautiful ice cubes. Your guests will swoon over this fancy punch.

Looking for some more edible flower inspiration? Check out some of these recipes.


Where Can You Find Edible Flowers?

Edible flowers generally come from two sources: natural foods stores, and outside. I recommend starting with natural food stores to begin with for safety. Everything they sell will be food grade and definitely edible, as not all flowers are.

You'll mostly find dried flowers available, often in the bulk spice section. I've found rosebuds, lavender buds, calendula, chamomile, and hibiscus at my local natural foods stores, but selection will vary depending on your area. If you don't want to hunt for them, there are options for bulk edible flowers online too. I have my eye on pretty blue cornflowers to order soon.

You can also grow your own edible flowers if you want a fresh option. I grow pansies every fall and use them through the spring to garnish salads, desserts, and more. I've tried to grow nasturtiums before but they never made it, maybe this will be the year! For more information, check out this guide to edible flowers, and always make sure you know what you're putting in your mouth before you eat it.


Flowers To Eat: A Complete Guide To Edible Flowers

Spring is in the air and flowers are everywhere. Gardens, windowsills. and dinner plates. Throughout history, edible flowers like roses, lavender, violets, chrysanthemums and begonias have made their way into the kitchen. Leonardo Da Vinci himself penned a rose water recipe.

For the past decade, edible flowers have graced the dishes created by haute cuisine chefs like salt cod with Jerusalem artichoke and rose and a French-inspired fruit and flowers aspic. Now, more than ever, we see edible flowers becoming more accesible to foodies everywhere.

From blogs to flower pot desserts, there is no doubt edible flowers are leaving their mark on modern cuisine. Here at Fine Dining Lovers we've seen some really creative ideas, from edible flower ice cubes to viola lollipops, lavender cookies and edible sugar flowers.


How to Use Edible Flowers in Summer Cooking

Flowers are more than looks, you know. They’re not just for perfumes either. You can eat many of those pretty petals in all sorts of ways. So consider taking your midsummer seasonal eating to another level with our guide on how to use edible flowers.

After tasting food and tea across Asia for years, Jason Cohen started his Flower Pot Tea Company based in New Rochelle, New York, in February 2017. He spoke to us about it in May of that year, and still sells rose butter tea cakes along with his blooming teas and tisanes today.

The tea cakes are soft, chewy, and a little sticky-sweet inside, made with real crushed rose petals—not rose water, extract, or rosehips like many other rose products are. “When you bite it, you can see that,” Cohen said. “It has that texture to it. That’s the thing that really tastes like what you think. It tastes like a rose and smells like a rose.”

You can find macarons, gelato, and other sweets in rose flavors (such as the rose-vanilla marshmallow from Whimsy & Spice)—along with jasmine and lavender flavors, as well as hibiscus. But rose is less commonly used in desserts, and especially in savory dishes, in the United States compared to how frequently it appears in the food of the Middle East.

Then again, munching on flowers at all is unusual for most people in the U.S.

Tea is a more familiar way to consume blossoms. Cohen’s signature drink, The Enlightening Lotus Tisane, is technically not a tea because it contains no tea leaf essence. The ingredient list is simple: lotus flowers. The tisane’s golden honey aroma evolves with a subtle herbaceous finish. He found the tea-quality flower at a single plantation in a Buddhist monastery in China.

If you’d like to branch out (or bud out) into making food with flowers, keep reading for tips, ideas, and recipes.

Tips for Selecting Edible Flowers

Above all, make sure to get food-grade quality flowers. If you buy nonorganic ones, you could be eating chemicals and pesticides that aren’t approved for consumption, even worse than the pesticides used in conventional foods. Also, you can use the flowers from the herbs you’re growing already, such as cilantro, arugula, chives, marjoram, sage, and thyme. Snip the blossoms with some of the herbs themselves and toss them into salads or on top of pasta or rice dishes.

When eating flowers, make sure to display their beauty before you gobble or guzzle them. “The main thing with flowers is to create an experience with the food. Even adding flowers to your salad can create a texture or a subtle taste,” Cohen told us. “Blindfolded, you might not be able to identify it, but otherwise you see it and smell it, and that transforms the dish.”

Get more great tips on choosing edible flowers from NYC florist Ode à la Rose, including notes on seasonal allergies, and the best time of day to pick your own petals for the table.

Types of Edible Flowers and How to Use Them

Desserts and green salads are the easiest ways to use flowers in your food—try this beautiful Nasturtium and Tomato Salad with Dates and Pistachios, or simply add some blossoms to a standard mixed green salad like you see above. But play with flowers all sorts of ways in the kitchen. Freeze little bright bits of flower petals into ice cubes for dressing up all your drinks, from cocktails to lemonade, or use a mix of vibrant blossoms to liven up simple cream cheese sandwiches.

In most instances, you’ll want to remove pistils and stamens from the flowers and eat only the petals, but sometimes the leaves are also good eating, and in the case of pansies, for one, you can even leave the pistils and stamens intact for a more pronounced flavor.

Gourmet Sweet Botanicals' Edible Flowers Premium Assortment, $15 on Etsy

These ship overnight from California, so they'll be expensive, but they're also gorgeous enough to warrant a splurge.

These are the most common edible flowers, with ideas on some delicious ways to use them:

Rose: These fragrant petals can accent braised dishes, enhance creamy desserts, and embellish salads. Try a rose petal jam, cupcakes, or ice cream.

Violets: The flower buds of sweet violets can add depth to desserts with their flavor and beauty, as well as salads. Closely related pansies and violas have less flavor, but are vivid and more easily available and work in the same ways. Make a violet syrup for your baked goods, or use the candied flower petals to garnish them.

Nasturtiums: These blossoms are some of the most colorful and useful, especially in salads. Their peppery bite resembles watercress (hence pairing them up in this Risotto with Nasturtium Blossoms and Watercress recipe). Consider them for poultry, soups, and vegetable dishes too—even blending into a composed butter.

Hibiscus: This popular edible flower is often used in Jamaican drinks because of its surprisingly meaty texture and tangy taste. Besides alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, try them in cakes and even hibiscus enchiladas.

Lavender: Cooking with lavender is a little more common, but if you overdo it, your food can taste soapy. You were warned. Grind it into sugar when baking or infuse it into a liquid (including custards for desserts like this Double Lavender Honey Ice Cream recipe). Herbes de Provence is a French spice mix that includes lavender and can flavor roast lamb or grilled chicken. Like the others, try sprinkling it onto desserts and salads too for a pretty and flavorful garnish.

Geraniums: These multi-faceted petals impart flavors ranging from minty and fruity to spicy and rosy. They’re talented flavor mimics of nutmeg, orange, apple, lemon, and strawberry. Make some cookies or pound cake with them. Or try this fragrant rice pudding with geranium leaves.

Carnations: More commonly seen in bouquets, carnations are edible, but only their petals, which have a slightly spicy and peppery flavor. Allegedly, they were a secret ingredient in the original recipe for Chartreuse liqueur. You can use them to garnish salads or desserts, or try steeping them in a sweet wine.

There are other delicious options out there like cucumber-flavored borage and bright calendula (also known as poor man’s saffron)—even exquisite micro orchids you can sprinkle in salads or use to garnish tropical drinks—but beware that there are also several toxic flowers you should steer clear of.

Edible Flower Recipes

Start your edible flower odyssey with some of our recipes, both original creations and ones shared with us by chefs.

Hibiscus Margarita

You’ve heard of dandelion wine, but this is a bolder floral drink by far. You’ll want to swill this flower-infused beverage for the bright red color alone, but it also tastes lovely. Just steep dried hibiscus flowers in your favorite high-quality tequila to get a sangria-inspired mixed drink we’ll call a margarita. Please garnish with the flower in some way. Make use of it visually. (And for a non-alcoholic sipper, try our Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Punch) recipe.) Get our Hibiscus Margarita recipe.

Rose Petal Preserves

A Persian food classic, these preserves may not retain the bright colors of fresh roses, but they’re bursting with floral flavor. Try them with bread and butter (as you would any jam), or with shortbread cookies or ice cream, or use to make your own rose tea cakes. Get the Rose Petal Preserves recipe.

Zucchini Blossom Tacos

Zucchini blossoms are often stuffed, battered, and fried, or added to a Zucchini Blossom Frittata (even pizza), but they’re also great for a veggie taco filling. Try them in quesadillas too. Get our Zucchini Blossom Tacos recipe.

Spring Asparagus with Pea Flowers and Frozen Radish

This is a super cheffy recipe (makes sense, as it’s from Dan Hunter of Brae), but even if you don’t want to get that precise, it’s still a wonderful pairing of spring flavors with bright colors and contrasting textures and temperatures. For a simpler iteration, sprinkle some pea flowers over a roasted asparagus tart, or combine them both with silvered radish in a salad. Get the Spring Asparagus with Pea Flowers and Frozen Radish recipe.

Daniel Patterson’s Roasted Eggplant Soup

A simple eggplant soup, while delicious, is not the prettiest dish in the land. But a garnish of colorful flowers saves it from looking boring and adds additional pops of flavor too. Try the same trick with other soups, including chilled ones (like a bright green pea soup or an avocado-cucumber soup) that are perfect for eating in the garden in warmer weather. Get Daniel Patterson’s Roasted Eggplant Soup recipe.

Prawns with Nasturtiums and Finger Limes

Another one from Australian chef Dan Hunter, this may be too complicated for a weeknight dinner, but it demonstrates that flower leaves can be great ingredients too nasturtium leaves are peppery just like their blossoms, and make great little wrappers for things like rice (think dolmas) or shrimp paste. Get the Prawns with Nasturtiums and Finger Limes recipe.

Champagne and Sorbet Float with Lavender

These gorgeous glasses of Champagne-drenched raspberry sorbet are both drinks and dessert—and are infused with floral flavor thanks to a lavender syrup and lavender buds sprinkled on top at the end. Get our Champagne and Sorbet Float with Lavender recipe.

Flower Syrup

Aniko Hobel / Moment / Getty Images

You can make a simple syrup with any edible flowers you like the process is the same, but the amount of petals will depend on the type. See our guide to making floral syrup.

Cooking with Flowers, $5.69 on Amazon

'Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender, and Other Edible Flowers'

This post was originally published by Amy Sowder in 2017 and was updated by Jen Wheeler.


A List of Edible Flowers to Elevate your Garnish Game

IMPORTANT: Never eat a plant or flower if you cannot identify it with absolute certainty. Many flowers are toxic and may look like those that are edible. Use common sense and if in doubt, don’t eat it! Flowers from florists or grocery stores have been treated with pesticides and should not be eaten unless labeled as edible.

For quick reference, here is a list of some common plants that ARE NOT safe to eat: rhododendron, azalea, daffodil, hydrangea, ranunculus, lily, lily of the valley, foxglove, oleander.


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Cathy Barash is a garden photographer, writer, and editor for Meredith Books in Des Moines, Iowa.

Further reading

Barash, Cathy Wilkinson. Edible Flowers: Desserts & Drinks. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1997.
——. Edible Flowers: From Garden to Palate. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1993.
Belsinger, Susan. Flowers in the Kitchen: A ­Bouquet of Tasty Recipes. Loveland, Colo­rado: Interweave Press, 1991.
Morse, Kitty. Edible Flowers, A Kitchen Companion. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 1995.
Smith, Leona W., Forgotten Art of Flower ­Cookery. Gretna, Louisana: Pelican, Inc., 1985.

Published on Apr 1, 1998

How to Add Edible Flowers to Your Meals

The following flowers are all editable and will add a bit of flavor, depth, or color to most dishes.

Nasturtiums: Spicy, Peppery, and Tasty in Soups, Salads, and Dips

Nasturtiums top the list of flowers you can eat because they are spicy, peppery, yet also sweet and mild at the same time.

This flower tastes similar to a radish or watercress, so they aren't spicy enough to place in a taco for extra heat. Instead, food lovers will add nasturtiums to salads or dip mixes that pair well with pitas, baguettes, or sourdough bread recipes.

  • Editable: The edible parts of the nasturtium are the leaves, petals, and seeds.
  • Nutrition: The petals and leaves contain a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • Colors: Nasturtiums come in orange, red, and yellow. Leaves are deep green.
  • Uses: Nasturtiums are commonly eaten raw, as a garnish, or ground down into dips.
  • Dishes: Stinging Nettle Soups, Grilled Vegetable Soups, Pomegranate Syrups, Nasturtium Garnish Smoked Salmon and Eggs, and Summer Salads.

Add nasturtiums to Summer Salads by sprinkling a handful of petals with spinach leaves.

Walnuts and peanuts pair well with nasturtiums, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing won't overpower the spiciness of the petals. Salad dressings with a dijon mustard base also work.

Roses: Sweet, Sugary, and Yummy in Cakes, Cookies, and Teas

Roses are used in sweet dishes and desserts because their sugary flavoring brings an extra glucose rush to baked goods. All parts of the rose are editable, but you'll want to remove the bitter white leaves to maximize taste.

Unless roses are grown in your backyard, be sure to ask for a pesticide-free variety as these blooms tend to contain a higher amount of toxins.

  • Editable: The edible parts of roses are the leaves, petals, hips, and seeds.
  • Petal Nutrition: Has vitamins A, B, C, E, K, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and antioxidants.
  • Colors: Common rose colors are red, pink, white, purple, yellow, and orange.
  • Uses: You can eat roses raw, as a garnish, in teas, used as a flavor for vinegar, perfumes, hair and beauty products, alcohol, or used as medicine.
  • Dishes: Pistachio Rose Cakes, Pink Rose Meringues (cookies), Rose Ice Cream, Rose Water Teas, Candied Roses, Strawberry Rose Lassi (yogurt), and Rose Granola.

Add roses as a garnish to just about any sweet treat.

Candies Roses, which only require egg whites and sugar, can be made in 5 minutes. Then, after 24 hours of being left out on the counter, you'll have a sweet, low-calorie candy that's much healthier for you than store-bought varieties.

Calendula: Bitter, but Tastes Similarly to Saffron and Used as a Spice

Calendula blossoms are known as the "poor man's saffron" because they taste similar to the expensive, bitter spice. Like saffron, we know the calendula flower for its holistic properties.

Although fresh calendula isn't considered "tasty" by most metrics when their petals are dried, their authentic flavor comes out. As a garnish, many admire this flower for its color and size.

  • Editable: The entire flower is editable, but only the petals taste like saffron.
  • Nutrition: Calendulas are high in vitamin A, C and are anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
  • Colors: This flower comes in orange and yellow. Leaves are deep green.
  • Uses: Calendulas are eaten raw, added to salsa, salads, scrambled eggs, ice cubes, and paneers. Calendula tea is drunk globally to relieve symptoms of many illnesses.
  • Dishes: Calendula Infused Oils, Whipped Coconut Oil, Calendula Cupcakes (as garnish), Tea. When dried, you can put calendula in soups, salads, eggs, and salsa.

The calendula flower doesn't have many uses in recipes when fresh, but the possibilities are endless once they're dried.

To dry calendula petals, hang them upside down in a dark environment until dried, or place them in the microwave wrapped in silica sand for 2-3 minutes.

Lavender: Soothing with a hint of Mint and Found in Baked Goods

Although lavender is more well-known for its soothing properties and its effects on sleep, its floral and rosemary/mint-like taste goes well in sweet or savory meals.

Like mint, use lavender sparingly, or you'll quickly overpower any dish.

Dried lavender can be used as a garnish on almost any meal, as its flavor profile is less intense and won't interact poorly with the meal.

  • Editable: The entire herb is editable, but not to pets, specifically cats.
  • Nutrition: The petals and leaves contain vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
  • Colors: We find lavender often in purple, but bluer varieties exist.
  • Uses: Can be eaten raw, used in medicine and pharmaceutical products.
  • Dishes: Lavender Salads, Soups, Stews and Pastas, Lavender Tea, Lavender and Walnut Cookies, Vanilla Lavender Cake, and Lavender Flavored Vinegar.

Add dried lavender to soups, stews, and salads for flavor, but only include this herb in baked goods if you genuinely want to improve the sweetness of a meal.

It's best to taste the lavender you have first, so you understand how much of its floral taste a dish will need.

Squash Blossom: Male Zucchini Flowers That Taste like Mild Squash

The squash blossom is the male equivalent to the female squash, but the zucchini squash blossom is the most popular.

Squash blossoms are a common ingredient in multiple Mexican dishes, like the Flores de Calabaza. This delicate flower tastes best when fresh and resembles the female squash equivalent. And the zucchini blossom tastes like a mild zucchini.

  • Editable: The whole plant is edible, but the blossoms contain all the flavor.
  • Nutrition: The blossom contains vitamin A, C, iron, potassium, and calcium
  • Colors: Squash blossoms are a mix of yellow, orange, and green.
  • Uses: Not commonly eaten raw as they're usually chopped with other ingredients, stuffed with herbs or meat, and can be deep-fried with the stem in-tact.
  • Dishes: Fried Squash Blossoms, Baked Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta, Zucchini Blossom Sauce for Pasta, Squash Blossom Quesadillas, and Squash Blossom Crema.

Squash blossoms are incredibly versatile, but they're most popular fried or stuffed with ricotta.

Since the blossom almost closes at the top, they can hold a lot of ingredients and spices. In egg-noodle-based pasta, squash blossoms pair well with meats, cheeses, and tomato sauce.

Dandelions: A Tasty Weed That Protects Against Heart Disease

Often considered a weed, dandelions are a superfood that includes multiple vitamins, minerals, and nutrients integral to heart health. Its leaves, when picked young, taste honey-like, but they turn bitter as they age. Dandelion leaves taste similar to arugula but a bit spicier, and you can also use them in salads. Don't pass these weeds up they're perfect for you and taste great.

  • Editable: The entire dandelion is edible, but the roots contain most of the nutrients.
  • Nutrition: Dandelions are a true superfood. They're high in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, improves heart health, and prevent some cancers.
  • Colors: Dandelions come in yellow. Leaves are a deep, dark green.
  • Uses: Can be eaten raw, blended, in teas, fried, cooked, stir-fried, or roasted.
  • Dishes: Dandelion Root Tea, Dandelion Greens, Garlic Pizza, Dandelion Greens Salad, Dandelion Wine, Syrup, or Jelly. Dandelion Cookies, and Fried Dandelions.

Don't pick dandelions on the side of the road because they'll be laced with pesticides. If you have a yard, select them from there or steal them from your neighbors (with their permission, of course)!

Dandelions are usable in almost any recipe, so experiment with ways to add them.

Viola: Violas, Pansies, and Violets Add Brightness to Candies and Cakes

Since violas come in various colors, they are popular garnishes in baked goods, ice cubes, or popsicles.

A classic viola-based hors d'oeuvres is the Cream Cheese Viola, which can be picked up and eaten whole.

Pansies and violets are perfect for decorating cakes and candying, but they look incredible on top of cookies and grand wedding cakes.

  • Editable: You can eat the entire flower as the whole viola tastes the same.
  • Nutrition: Violas have vItamin A, C, antioxidants, and are anti-bacterial/inflammatory.
  • Colors: Violas come in most colors, including single and combination shades.
  • Uses: Find violas in ice cubes, popsicles, garnishes, pharmaceuticals, and oils.
  • Dishes: Viola Jelly, Vinegar, Syrups and Ice Cubes, Viola Flower Crepes, Viola Cakes, Viola Tea, Candied Viola, Viola Casseroles, Viola Salads, and Egg and Viola Omelettes.

Pansies, violas, and violets are added to foods for their taste, as they taste a bit grassy with slight hints of sugar.

Violas are great ingredients to add color to jellies, vinegar, ice cubes, and syrups. However, adding too many violas could spoil most dishes.

Daylily: Mild Vegetable Flavor That's Similar to Asparagus

Lilies aren't typically edible for humans, but you can consume the daylily. As they taste similar to asparagus, you can save yourself from a hefty grocery bill by picking these flowers instead of purchasing the vegetable.

Daylilies are incredibly hardy, and you can eat in a tuber, bud, or floral state. Daylily tubers taste like green beans or radishes, giving this plant variety.

  • Editable: Daylily blooms hold all the flavor, but the entire plant is edible.
  • Nutrition: Contains vitamin A, B, B2, B3, C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Colors: Available in single or combination shades of yellow, red, pink, purple, and pink.
  • Uses: Daylilies are primarily ornamental or used in traditional Chinese cuisine.
  • Dishes: Daylily Fresh Corn and Black-Bean Salad, Mushroom Golden Needles (daylily tubers), Vegetarian Stew, Fried Daylilies, and Squash with Sweet Onions and Daylilies.

Please note that daylilies can produce an allergic reaction in some adults, so it's best to eat tiny amounts of the flower before cooking a whole recipe.

You also have to make sure you're eating an actual day-lily and not another variant. Finally, wash the daylilies thoroughly as they tend to attract ants.


Best known as a simple relaxing herbal tea, chamomile can also be used to add a warm, sunny floral flavor to baked goods. Most people know how chamomile tea tastes and that same flavor infuses into cakes, jams scones, and buns. Try any of these delectable chamomile recipes:


Ornamental Edible Flowers

We tend to grow all these flowers as ornamental plants. But they can also find their place on our plates.

In this (far from comprehensive) list, you will discover just how many of the plants we commonly grow in our garden for their appearance also taste great.

1. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums have a delicious, peppery taste similar to rocket or watercress and their colourful blooms look great in a summer salad.

Both the flowers and the leaves can be used and have a similar taste. You can also use the seeds, pickled, as a caper substitute.

2. Pansies

Pansies have a mild lettuce-like taste that makes them a popular option for salads.

Of course, they come in a range of hues which look great on the plate and the whole flower can be used, which makes harvesting super easy.

3. Viola/ Violets

Like pansies, violas and violets have a mild and slightly sweet flavour. Again, the whole flower can be used in salads or sandwiches.

Candied violets also make an excellent cake decoration.

4. Hostas

Hostas are an incredibly useful edible ornamental. You can eat the flowers and, in fact, the whole plant is edible.

Try the stolons in a stir fry in spring, or leaves along with the flowers in a range of raw or cooked recipes.

5. Borage

Borage&rsquos pretty blue flowers have a cucumber like taste. They are wonderful for use in summer drinks, and in a range of salads or other recipes.

One cool idea is to freeze borage flowers into ice cubes that can be slipped into your summer drinks.

6. Calendula

The peppery petals of calendula are a fantastic addition to salads, stir fries, pasta meals etc..

Their zesty tang adds piquancy and their colour adds vibrancy to a range of dishes. The petals can be used as an alternative to saffron.

7. French Marigolds

Fresh, zingy and citrus-like, the petals of French (though not African) marigolds are edible, and are another great, colourful addition to summer salads.

The petals can also be used in cooked dishes and are also sometimes referred to as &lsquopoor man&rsquos saffron&rsquo.

You&rsquoll also want to grow French marigolds in your vegetable garden this year. There are a lot of benefits to doing so.

8. Chrysanthemums

All chrysanthemum flowers can be eaten,though they can differ considerably in how they taste. Some are hot and peppery, some much milder, and some even sweet.

You may have to take a nibble of a few different varietals to find out which ones you enjoy.

9. Carnations

Carnations taste a little peppery, or somewhat like cloves. They can be used in savoury salads like many of the above options, but also in sweet desserts. One great recipe calls for carnations to make a delicious cheesecake, for example.

10. Hollyhocks

The blowsy blooms of the hollyhock are one of the versatile edible flowers with a mild and slightly sweet taste.

They can be used as garnishes, in salad dressings, or in a variety of other dishes.

Hollyhocks are in the mallow family &ndash and a number of other members of this family also have edible leaves and flowers.

11. Sunflowers

You may be familiar with the fact that you can eat a sunflower&rsquos seeds.

But you may not be aware that you can also eat the petals, and the unopened flower buds can be steamed in the same way as an artichoke.

12. Cornflowers

Cornflowers have a slightly sweet and spicy clove-like taste. They also crystallize well and so can also be used candied, like violets, for cupcake toppers or the like.

13. Gladioli

Gladioli in their colourful hues can be stuffed to create delicious dishes. The individual flower petals can also be eaten alone, and have a mild lettuce-like taste.

14. Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle blossoms bring a fragrant sweetness to jams, jellies, cakes and other sweet treats.

As the name suggests, they do have a somewhat honey-like taste to them.

15. Dianthus

Dianthus,or pinks, petals can be steeped in wine or sugared for use in cake decoration. These petals are surprisingly sweet as long as they are cut away from bitter white base of the flowers.

16. Antirrhinum

Snapdragons, or antirrhinum flowers have a slightly bitter flavour that resembles that of chicory.

It can be used in a range of recipes and its snapping dragon shape means that it can look cool on the rim of a bowl or cocktail glass.

17. Tulips

Large, smooth tulip petals make wonderful little platters for sweet canapés, or as little scoops for some ice cream or another dessert.

They have a sweet lettuce flavour but with a slight peppery aftertaste and can also be used in spring salads.

18. Roses

Roses are often used in Middle Eastern dishes in the form of rose water which adds intense rose flavour to a dish. But the petals can also simply be used as garnishes or additions to a range of recipes.

19. Lavender

Lavender does not just smell great, it can also provide a mildly sweet (though strong) flavour to a range of sweet baked goods, ice creams and other recipes.

Just be sure to add lavender in moderation, as the flavour really is intense.


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