Edible flowers, such as borage, nasturtiums, and violas, are becoming increasingly popular in cooking. Not only do they add flavor and color to dishes, but they also bring a unique flair to any meal. I’ll share essential growing tips, the most popular edible flowers, their uses, when to harvest them, how to store them until you’re ready to use them, and any precautions or other tips you should be aware of when using edible flowers.
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Edible Flower Growing Tips
Most edible flowers are simple to grow if you understand the basics:
- Focus on having good soil and amending with compost.
- Most edible flowers require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Learn about the specific types of flowers you would like to grow and learn the best time to plant in your area for the best success.
Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
• PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
• BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.
Most Popular Edible Flowers (and the best tasting ones!)
(For growing tips, click on the edible flower name to visit my blog post about that flower.)
Some of the most popular edible flowers include violas, roses, borage blossoms, squash blossoms, nasturtiums, calendula petals (also known as pot marigolds), chamomile blossoms, daisies, lavender blooms/buds (not leaves), hibiscus petals/flowers (not leaves), elderberry blossoms/flowers (not leaves), and elderflower heads (not leaves).
Many of these edible flowers have sweet or subtle flavors that can enhance the taste of different dishes like salads or desserts. Some of the most flavorful options include:
- Arugula (peppery; milder than the greens)
- Borage (cucumber-like)
- Calendula (spicy, peppery, bitter)
- Carnation (spicy, clove-like)
- Chamomile (sweet apple flavor)
- Chives (mild onion)
- Coriander flowers (cilantro)
- Cornflower (mildly spicy, clove-like)
- Dandelion (honey, sweet)
- Dill (mild dill)
- Elderberry (tart pineapple or blackberry flavor)
- French Marigold (citrus, bitter)
- Lavender (floral, strong flavor similar to rosemary)
- Nasturtium (peppery taste)
- Rose (floral, mildly sweet)
- Sage (mild sage)
- Squash blossoms (squash with a delicate sweetness like honeydew melon)
- Viola (floral with a mild mint or cinnamon)
Most Popular Uses & Unusual and Creative Uses For Edible Flowers
The most common uses for edible flowers are garnishes on salads or desserts; however, there are many other creative ways to use them! For example:
- Using borage in ice cubes
- Adding rose petals to tea
- Sprinkling violets over ice cream
- Adding calendula petals into soups
- Cooking cornflower blossoms in rice
- Freezing elderflower heads into popsicles
- Making squash blossom quesadillas
- Infusing simple syrup with lavender buds
- Making herbal jams with hibiscus petals and honey
The possibilities are endless!
As I enter the world of consuming edible flowers, I rely on others’ experiences and recipes to help me make the most of each flower’s flavors.
“The Edible Flower” by Erin Bunting and Jo Facer contains more than 50 recipes using edible flowers.
These tried-and-true recipes encourage me to be more adventurous in my quest to use more flowers in my cooking.
When To Harvest Edible Flowers & How To Store Them Until Ready To Use
The best time to harvest edible flowers is usually when the blooms are just beginning to open. This ensures they will be at their peak freshness and flavor when you consume them.
It’s also best to harvest edible flowers first thing in the morning when their moisture content is at its highest.
Once you harvest your edible flowers, you can store them in an airtight container, refrigerated, until ready to use them. Put edible flowers in an ice bath to cool them quickly and preserve their freshness.
Any Precautions Or Other Tips To Be Aware Of When Using & Consuming Edible Flowers
When it comes to consuming edible flowers, it’s essential to ensure they have been grown organically without pesticides or other chemicals to be safe for consumption. Additionally, not all parts of some plants may be safe for consumption, so you must know which parts are okay before eating them!
When you learn which flowers are edible and how to use them, you look at your garden with new eyes. Whether decorating cakes with pansy petals or infusing syrups with lavender buds, there’s no limit on what one can create with edible flowers.