Edible Flowers You Can Use In Your Kitchen
There are many flowers that are edible and some like cauliflower and broccoli we might already be eating quite often, even if we don't really think of them as flowers! If you have a herb garden, the vast majority of flowers that appear on your herb plants can be eaten, and generally taste similar to the leaves that we more commonly eat. For this blog though, we'll be concentrating on what most people think of as decorative flowers, you might be surprised to learn that we can use these to add dramatic colour to salads and unique flavours in our baking.
A few words of caution before we start. It's important to know where your flowers have come from and to make sure they haven’t been sprayed with poisonous chemicals because they weren't sold with the intention of being eaten. I would highly recommend growing them yourself so you can be sure and NOT munching into a bunch of flowers you were given as a gift from your significant other!
It's also possible that you may discover that you have an allergy that you didn’t know about. It's not likely but it's always possible when we try any new foods for the first time. It might be best to try a very small amount of any of these flowers first just to make sure.
With that out of the way, let’s eat some flowers!
It seems only right that we should start with the wonderful tasting Honeysuckle. Honeysuckle flowers are sweet and floral, with a taste that is actually very similar to honey. You can add the flowers into a salad or use them to add some unique sweetness to a dessert. I've used them to add some colour and interest to a fairly plain vanilla cheesecake and they looked and tasted amazing! Honeysuckle is also commonly used in teas, you could even try adding them to a warm honey drink.
Anise hyssop blossoms have a really interesting liquorice-like flavour that is sweet and slightly floral. They are extremely versatile and you can use these flowers as a replacement in almost any instance you'd usually use a common herb. It's a great alternative to mint in many dishes, a nice addition to rice and great on potatoes. You could also use it instead of rosemary in a lamb dish. You can use the whole flower head if you chop it up well, but I prefer to just pull the blossoms off.
Nasturtium flowers are a great flower to add to your dishes because they come in a variety of colours from bright reds to beautiful yellows. They are also nutritious with high levels of vitamin A, C and D! They are among my favourite flowers to add to a salad because they taste a bit like a radish or slightly more peppery watercress. If you like those flavours in a salad then you'll love these and wonder why you never used them before. They are amazing with a boiled egg too!
This flower is also known as bee balm and is very easy to grow in your garden. It has a slightly sweet flavour that reminds me of a cross between oregano and mint. It also has a fantastic purple/magenta colour that looks amazing on a plate! Just pull the petals off and add them to your dish- I love these with tomatoes especially. For a simple but impressive starter dish just slice up some mixed varieties of tomato, add some tangy citrus dressing and scatter over some wild bergamot petals!
There is a lot of culinary uses for marigold petals, so much that we could write a book on that alone! Not to mention the different varieties have quite different tastes, but generally marigolds have a peppery and citrusy flavour that works really well with fish. However you can find recipes that use marigold petals as wide-ranging as breads and cakes right through to soups and stews. They can be used to add a vibrant yellow colour to dishes and even dried for use as a less expensive saffron alternative!
Borage is another flower that's really easy to grow for yourself in your garden. The blue flowers are very attractive and taste delicious. They have quite a subtle taste that's similar to a cucumber but a little sweeter. This makes them ideal to put in salads and that cool splash of blue looks really unique. It will definitely impress your guests! They taste great with cheese too, for a party appetizer that will get everyone talking, just add some cream cheese to small crackers and put a borage flower on top! Bees really love borage plants too so we highly recommend growing these for yourself and your local bees!
I can clearly remember being told off by my Grandmother for picking the flowers off her fuchsias when I was a small child. They look like cute little fairy ballerinas and my sister and I would play games with them in her garden. Little did I know that we could have eaten them too! All varieties of fuchsia are edible and taste pretty good, but some have a slightly acidic taste and a little bitterness. I would recommend a variety called Swingtime that is sweet, delicious, and it also has a really attractive red and white flower. I tend to use fuchsias as an edible garnish on lots of things because they just look so wonderful. You can put them on top of rice dishes, soups, salads, desserts or anything that you think will benefit from a little fairy ballerina pizazz!
You are probably aware of chamomile tea, so it won't be too much of a surprise to learn that you can eat chamomile flowers too! The best variety to eat is 'common chamomile' (Chamaemelum nobile) as it has a really nice flavour that is weirdly somewhat like the taste of an apple! Chamomile flowers look like daisies and will make a really cute addition to a child's ice cream dessert. Because of their flavour they also work great when added to cereals or oatmeal breakfasts too... in fact anywhere a little apple flavour would work you can use these flowers. A berry crumble or custard pudding topped with some chamomile flowers is probably the perfect autumn dessert, especially if you can pick the berries for free too!
There are many other edible flowers that we don't have time to talk about today but these are certainly some of our favourites! We hope this will inspire you to start your journey into using flowers in your kitchen for something other than looking at! It's a really fun and inexpensive way to make your meal times a little more unique and interesting. You might be surprised how many plants you have growing in your garden already that you can make part of your meal time!