Flowers are known for beauty and conveying relaxation and harmony to the backyard and landscape. They fill in bare spots in the lawn and help to blend sections of the yard and home together. They also have another purpose often overlooked, many are edible.
photo credit: ZeePack
Flowers add to any meal with taste, beauty and they are high in vitamins and minerals you can use both annual and perennial flowers. There are over 100 different flowers that can be eaten but as with any plant you must know which ones are edible and which ones are not.
If you are going to eat your flowers first you must know which ones are safe to use and second, don’t use any chemicals on the plants. The chemical residue will remain behind in the petals and this will be dangerous to your health. Also people with allergies will have to see what flowers they could eat and watch for any allergic reaction.
There are many non-edible flowers that can be quite toxic to humans, such as Azaleas, Clematis and Daffodils. Other flower you can eat the petals but not the leaves, so before trying flowers do research. What’s Cooking America has an excellent breakdown on edible flowers along with links to recipes
A few edible flowers that you can grow in your garden, enjoy their beauty, and eat later include: Alliums, Borage, Cattails, Pansies, Lilacs, Dandelions, Nasturtiums, squash blossoms, Calendula, Impatiens, Roses, Mint, and Chrysanthemums. This publication from IA State will provide you with more information
Edible flowers can be used for salads, soups, drinks, syrups, jellies, and main dishes. They are often used as decoration on cakes and pies. Borage and violets that have been candied have been a favorite for cake decorating for years. And this year at the Kitchen garden or Victory garden the Obamas are growing on the White House lawn, there are edible flowers in the garden.
Edible flowers are very delicate and need to be handled carefully to maintain their beauty. Harvest the flowers early in the morning before the sun has warmed them. The flowers have more taste in the moring. Gently clean off the petals, then let dry. Flowers should be used the same day or next day for the best flavor.
photo credit: la fattina
Each edible flower has it own unique flavor that you may or may not like. So pick a few and see if they are something you want to add to your prepared dishes. I remember my first taste of the nasturtium. It has a peppery taste so took me buy surprise but it’s a great addition to salads.
With the renewed interest in gardens and recession gardens you may want to add a few flowers to your meals.