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Foraging for Edible Flowers

Before I get into this, I want to highlight that I am not encouraging you to pick your neighbor’s tenderly cultivated flowers and eat them.  But, if you can stop to smell the wild roses, you could eat one too.

There are a lot of edible flowers that add extra color and flavor to food.  Plus, using edible flowers is a great way to impress guests in your home or when preparing food for others.

Deliciousness aside, you want to use discretion when purchasing flowers.  Though the species may be edible, commercially grown flowers for bouquets are not intended to be eaten so chemicals they’re sprayed with are used in larger quantities.  I suggest growing your own or purchasing organically grown flowers.

Here’s a list of a few flowers you’re probably familiar with but might not know you can eat:

  1. Rose – the flavor depends on the type, color, and soil conditions. All are sweet but some are more floral, minty or spicy.  Add as a garnish to desserts, salads, or float them in punch bowls.  Remember to remove the bitter white part of the flower.  For added color to a drink, freeze the petals in ice cubes.
  2. Day Lilly – slightly sweet, mild veggie flavor. Great for stuffing like squash blossoms or as a substitute for asparagus in salads.  Be careful, cause eating too much could cause indigestion.  Other Lilly varieties may be toxic, so make sure you’re choosing day lillies.
  3. Begonia – edible parts: stem, leaves and flower, citrus/sour/bitter flavor, stems can be used in the place of rhubarb
  4. Marigold – commonly known as poor mans saffron. Can range from spicy to bitter to peppery. Lemon gem and tangerine gem have the best flavor.
  5. Peony – sweet, floral petals.  The petals are great boiled to make tea or as a garnish to float in summer drinks.
  6. Scented geraniums – the flavor usually corresponds to their smell. So, a lemony smelling flower will have a citrusy flavor.  However, the Citronelle variety may not be edible so purchase wisely!
  7. Hibiscus – cranberry, citrusy flavor that can be slightly acidic.  Use sparingly in dishes.  Can also be dried to make tea or candied.
  8. Pansy – sweet green, grassy flavor.  The petals are mild and the whole flower has a strong, wintery green flavor. Great for garnish in fruit salad, green salad, dessert or soup.
  9. Lilac – lemony taste with a floral scent.  Great in salads.
  10. Impatiens – flowers have a sweet flavor but delicate so they’re best as garnish.

Of course, fruit and vegetable flowers are often edible too. Some examples include:

  • Fruits: apple blossoms, orange blossoms, lime, lemon, or kumquat
  • Herbs: Lavender, basil, thyme, oregano, mint, sage
  • Vegetables: Alliums (garlic, chives,leeks),pea blossoms, radish flowers

Happy hunting!

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