There are several flowers you can grow in the garden that beatify the yard but also can be added to salads and other meals. They are referred to as edible flowers.
I remember one day when my brother’s two boys (age three and four) were over for the day and I let them work in the garden. I had one area of the garden which I grew edible flowers and I talked to the boys about the flowers and let them try the different kinds. I also made sure that they knew there were only certain flower you could eat and to always ask first.
About this time my brother came to pick the boys up and the youngest, Bob, had a handful of nasturtiums he was munching on. My brother just looked at me with that Look I seem to encourage in people and said, “Thanks Denise!”
Edible flowers are easy to grow and very delicate so it’s best to grow your own. Keep in mind that if you plan to eat the flowers they need to be organically grown with no added pesticides. They also have valuable vitamins and nutrients.
POPULAR EDIBLE FLOWERS
Nasturtiums are the most common edible flower. Their bold yellow or scarlet colors make them a great addition to green salads. Nasturtiums also come in orange, pale orange, cream and bicolor, and they’re easy to grow from seed or purchased transplants. As for the flavor: at first the taste is sweet, but that’s followed by a bold peppery tang. You can make flavorful vinegar from nasturtiums by adding the flowers to good-quality white wine vinegar. Let the mixture rest in a dark, cool cupboard or the refrigerator (light will fade the color) for several weeks, then strain the flowers out and decant the vinegar into a clean glass bottle.
Pansies are a favorite annual for many people. They come in many colors and have a delicate fragrance. The flavor is that of mild wintergreen. You can make an elegant appetizer with flavored cream cheese on a cracker topped with a pansy flower. Pansies also make terrific cake decorations.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, was once known as poor man’s saffron because the yellow or orange petals of these daisy-like flowers can substituted for saffron. To get the effect, cook them with oil to bring out the color and flavor. Sauté some chopped onions in a bit of olive oil; add calendula petals, rice, and boiling water or broth. The result is a beautiful side dish that looks like Spanish paella. Calendula petals also add pizzazz to carrot cake when they are sprinkled over the cream cheese icing. Calendula is also used in homemade cosmetics.
Squash flowers are edible too. Acorn, patty pan squash and zucchini flowers all make terrific edibles. Traditional in Mediterranean cuisine, squash blossoms are usually stuffed with flavored breadcrumbs or ricotta cheese and sautéed or fried. The flowers have a mild flavor similar to zucchini or yellow squash. Pumpkin and gourd flowers are also edible.
Tangerine and lemon gem marigolds have a citrus-like flavor. Gem marigold varieties such as ‘Lemon Gem’ and ‘Tangerine Gem’ are favorite annuals for prettying up the vegetable garden. This marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) with its fernlike foliage is the only edible variety. When you pull the petals from the flower, break off the right-angled portion, as it can be bitter. Gem marigolds add flavor to deviled eggs.
Most herb flowers are delicious to eat. Their flavor is often milder and sweeter than that of the leaves. You can eat the flowers of dill, fennel, arugula, basil, borage, chives, cilantro and garlic chives.
Borage is my favorite herb flower. They make a great delicate candies flower of on top of cakes.
And last but not least dandelions have many useful purposes from jellies to cornbread. Don’t overlook this hearty “weed.”
* The edible flower list is from the website but unfortunatley I do not have the original source.