We all know that flowers are beautiful accents to gardens, bringing in vibrant colors, scents, and even attract some wildlife. They have been a staple for decorating lawns and homes for many years as they bring a certain life to any space. You may have even seen flowers garnishing your favorite food dishes or used as decorations for cakes, however, did you know that some of those flowers are actually edible?
People have been garnishing and cooking with flowers dating back to Roman times and are used in the culinary world in several cultures even to this day. If you are interested in which flowers are edible, here is a list of some common edible flowers and some facts to go along with them.
Sunflower (genus Helianthus)
We are all aware of the delicious nutrient-packed seeds sunflowers produce but the leaves, roots, and petals are also edible parts of the flower as well. Edible sunflowers are loaded with vitamins and minerals that offer a different taste depending on the part of the plant. Sunflower buds resemble an artichoke flavor with the sprouts pairing well in salads. The petals should be used carefully as they can taste bitter and of course, the seeds are amazing salty snacks.
Dandelions (Taraxacum Officinalis)
Dandelions are another edible flower filled with several vitamins and minerals. They include vitamins C, A, B6 and most importantly contain well over the daily value of vitamin K which is great for strengthening bones and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s. The leaves, seeds, flowers, and roots are all edible and can be made in many different types of meals. The dandelions seeds and leaves have earthy flavors with the flowers being on the sweet side. You can incorporate the plant into soups, salads, smoothies and even pasta with the roots of the plant being used in coffee or teas.
Rose (genus Rosa)
Rose’s are not only suited to make beautiful gardens but they are excellent edible flowers as well. A rosehip is one of the highest sources of vitamin C from a plant with the petals of the flower also containing small amounts of the vitamin. The petals and rosehips are the only edible parts of the flower with both having sweet flavors with some varieties having a minty or fruity taste. A way to know if a rose will have good flavor will depend on its scent. A rose with a very fragrant smell will deliver a lot of flavor as on the other hand, a flower without a scent will offer no flavor at all. Rosehips can be made into candy, tea, bread, jam and can even be eaten raw. The rose petals are fantastic for making rose water and teas.
Violets (Viola Odorata)
Violets are a beautiful edible purple flower that contains vitamins A & C, calcium and Iron. Both the flowers and leaves are edible parts of the plant and can be used in many different foods. The flowers on violets have a nice sweet flavor with the leaves having an earthy/grassy taste. Leaves are best used in salads but the flowers can be made into candies, jams and are great for muffins and many other pastries. Violets are also popular garnishes for desserts as they look beautiful and taste great.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
If you have ever visited a tropical area, you are sure to see a hibiscus flower. An edible hibiscus contains many nutrients like protein, fiber, calcium and more. Hibiscus flowers and roots are edible with both have a flavor resembling cranberry’s with a strong citrus flavor as well. Flowers can be dried and make excellent teas or infused waters but can also be made into jelly, put into salads and used as garnishes.
Pansy (Viola Tricolor L)
Pansy’s are another edible purple flower that is extremely popular in the culinary world. Some of the pansy’s nutrients include flavonoids, resin, and vitamin C. You can eat the petals or sepals of the plant with the petals having a slightly sweet and grassy flavor. The petals alone have a mild taste while eating the whole flower gives you more flavor. Pansy’s are great in soups and salads but also are amazing in many desserts and even cocktails.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Nasturtiums are bright beautiful flowers that contain many nutrients like vitamin C, iron, and flavonoids. You can eat the young leaves of the plant along with the flowers and buds. They have a sweet nectar type flavor with a fun spicy taste as well. The young leaves and buds of the plant are great for making pestos and also do well in salads. The flowers are good as appetizers and open sandwiches and the plant goes great in vinegar infusions and cocktails.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Many people love the soothing smell of a lavender flower but it is also very popular in food too. The plant has many nutrients like vitamin A, calcium with several antioxidants. Lavender leaves and flowers are the edible parts of the plant with the stems being used only as a flavoring. With a sweet flowery flavor, the plant also has a lemon and citrus taste as well. The leaves of the lavender plant are great garnishes for savory foods and the flowers can be used in several food items. Flowers can be made into desserts, jams, meats, cheeses, cocktails, and other drinks.
Squash Blossoms (Cucurbita pepo)
Squash blossoms are the yellow flower that forms on the vegetable rich in nutrients such as vitamins A & C, iron, and calcium. The entire blossom can be eaten and it has a very similar taste to zucchini and squash. Being that its flavor resembles the vegetable, you can use the blossoms in several food dishes like soups, salads, pasta, and casseroles. You can even fry or bake the flower or use them as a stuffing.
As you can see, there are many edible flowers that can be used in several ways. From drinks and desserts to sweet and savory, the options are endless with each flower having a unique flavor. It is important to remember to only consume flowers that you are positive can be eaten as there are many plants that are not for consumption and can potentially make you ill. When using edible flowers, make sure you get them from a trusted source and they are free of chemicals.