Are your taste buds clamoring for something new and exciting? Try edible flowers! Nasturtiums, pansies, and certain other blossoms are safe to eat and will add color and spice to meals. Listen to learn more about these versatile blooms and their do’s and don’ts.
This segment of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Musings podcast series was written by George and Becky Lohmiller and is read by Heidi Stonehill, an Almanac editor.
The next time you gather a bouquet of flowers to dress up the dinner table, try skipping the vase and putting them right in the salad bowl. The flowers of many of the plants in your garden are as delicious as they are beautiful and will lend new tastes, textures and a rainbow of colors to your dinner table.
Nasturtiums are among the most enjoyed salad flowers. Both the leaves and the orangey red blossoms provide a peppery pizzazz and a hint of watercress to any bowl of greens. Purple and white violets, and the bright faces of pansies and Johnny Jump-ups are a colorful complement to lettuce or spinach and make a beautiful display when molded in to gelatin salads. Try a sprinkle of marigold petals to add a golden garnish to a potato salad or a salad of dandelion greens decorated with their bright yellow flower petals.
Herb flowers are a great way to spice up a basic bowl of greens. For a spicy delight try using the blossoms of chives, dill, hyssop, and mint in place of or in combination with their leaves.
Not all flowers are edible and some are even poisonous. Read up on the subject or talk with an experienced flower feaster before trying new or unfamiliar blossoms. A few safe choices that are considered salad shoe-ins by the experts are honeysuckle, hollyhocks, burnet, yucca, rose, and the cucumbery tasting borage and yes, please, please do eat the daisies.
You won’t want to shop for salad flowers at your local florist because they may have been treated with pesticides and preservatives. There are a growing number of farm stands and farmers markets that feature organically grown flowers or you may choose to grow your own for convenience and freshness. If you do, we suggest that you plant them out of sight behind your house so that your neighbors won’t think that you’ve gone crazy when you start pulling all of the blossoms off of your plants.