While tending to my separate vegetable, potato, and herb gardens (the last, grown in a bag) keeps me plenty busy, I recently started a new project that also will be used in the kitchen … edible flowers! I saw this idea in The Garden Fresh Cookbook and couldn’t wait to get my pots ready!
I chose pansies, marigolds, and lavender. All three of these flowers are excellent for adding a hint of flavor and color to soups or a chicken or salad dish. Flowers also add an easy touch of elegance to dishes, so for your next dinner party, try adding a few petals of a brightly colored edible flower like calendula.
A local bakery I frequent makes lavender lemonade, and I am looking forward to making my own with freshly grown lavender. I can’t wait to have the ingredients to make such a delicious beverage in my backyard!
For my pots, I used several from seasons past along with an old coffee tin. The pots were easy to fill with soil. I planted the seeds ⅛ of an inch below the surface and then brought the pots inside where they will stay until the chilly northwest weather begins to warm up and the flowers are ready to be planted outside. For now, they will grow near the window of my living room, where the sun will keep them warm for most of the day!
As you begin to think about using more edible flowers in your cooking, be sure to avoid harvesting flowers grown on the roadside, as they have been exposed to dirt and exhaust. You should also stay away from flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers since often times they have been treated with pesticides. If you have hay fever, asthma, or allergies, think about staying away from edible flowers altogether.
One of my closest friends from college would use dandelions from her backyard in the kitchen. It seemed strange, but her food was always delicious! With a little bit of research, I learned that dandelions can be used to make wine and also added to pasta sauces and salads. Next time you’re pulling weeds, save the dandelions for dinner!
If you’re thinking of growing your own edible flowers, here are a few tips from The Garden-Fresh Cookbook:
Calendula (pot marigold). Cut the flower head when it’s fully open, then pluck the spicy petals. Use them fresh for soups, salads, and fish and poultry dishes, or dried as a salad and beverage garnish.
Clove Pink (carnation). Cut the spicy, clove-flavor petals away from the flower’s bitter-tasting white base. Dry them in the oven on low heat (200° F) and then add them to cake batter. Also use them sprinkled over a bowl of mixed berries or in fettuccine with mushrooms.
Pansy. The mildly mint-tasting flowers look dramatic when set into gelatin mold for a salad or frozen into ice cubes or a ring for punch. Fresh blossoms also add vibrant color to green salads, desserts, and soups.
Jane received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at Western Washington University where she studied Creative Writing. She now lives in the greater Seattle area, where she writes and drinks copious amounts of coffee. When she isn’t writing, cooking, gardening, or taking photos, you can find her at local shows and concerts, or running to prepare for yet another half marathon.