Add flowers to your food! Many gardeners forget that flowers not only are beautiful, but also can be raised to eat. Here are the best edible flowers based on firsthand experience in the garden and kitchen.
I especially love adding small edible flowers to salads, which can be made even more attractive and special with their color and subtle taste. Flowers can also be added to soups, cassroles, and other dishes.
Best Edible Flowers
Many folks know about nasturtiums.
Nasturiums’ peppery blooms can be thrown in whole or torn into pieces to add to many dishes. They can be sown as seeds or bought as bedding plants in the spring. Some believe that they help keep the cucumber beetle away so I sow mine right in the same beds with the cukes. Tying the cucumbers up a fence the nasturtiums can flow around their feet on the ground.
Pansies are also edible.
These happy-faced flowers are among the first to get planted in the spring as they don’t mind some frost. They come in many colors and styles and will continue to blossom as long as they are picked. They don’t have much flavor but always bring smiles to people when they arrive atop beds of lettuce, arugula or spinach.
Marigolds are edible, too. Most of the regular ones are a bit tough and unappetizing, but there is a series called “gems” that are just delightful. Lemon gems are bright yellow while tangerine gems are a lovely orange.
They don’t taste like much, but they have an interesting shape and easily stand up in the bowl.
Calendulas are edible as well. These daisy-like flowers come in yellows and oranges with tan and soft pink varieties available.
They can be added to a dish whole or the petals can be pulled and mixed into a salad to brighten it. They are also easy to dry. Pull the petals and put them on a cookie tray.
Leave this in a very dry spot; the top of a warm closet, an attic or an oven with a pilot light. After a couple of days, they can be collected and put in a sealed jar for storage.
Chive flowers can also be added to the list. These are very spicy and might be best utilized pulled apart and used judiciously. They can also be made into chive vinegar. Put the flowers into a clear jar with organic vinegar and leave in the Sun for a couple of weeks. Strain out the buds and keep in a sealed jar in the pantry.
In early spring, violets and small dandelions can be picked and added to salads. The dandelions are particularly delicious when they are underground and just about to emerge. These can be washed carefully and steamed for a few minutes. Serve with salt and butter.
Red and white clovers are edible although usually served in tea. These can be dried in a similar method to the calendulas.
Thyme flowers make great garnishes. They can be artfully placed on plates on top of or around different sides.
Enjoy growing, eating, and garnishing with flowers!
Editors’ note: Celeste’s recommendations assume that you NEVER use pesticides or other chemicals on the flowers you eat. Remember not all flowers are edible.