Have you ever had a piece of cake served to you with edible flowers on it before? There are many edible flowers that you can use in decorating cakes, cupcakes, in salads, desserts, soups and many other dishes.
Flowers are often used not for their flavor or fragrance in these dishes, but for their brilliant color. There are purple edible flowers, pink edible flowers, yellow, white and orange ones.
Edible flowers are easy to grow yourself or buy from the greenhouse, and we are going to share the different flowers you can grow and add to your dishes for a brilliant, colorful and impressionable effect.
There are many varieties of flowers that are edible. You can eay many of these flowers fresh, or you can find the best ways to dry flowers and dry them out yourself for culinary use. You can also purchase dried flowers that are edible for your cooking, baking and other uses! If you are purchasing edible dried flowers, just make sure that they say for culinary use on them.
Here is the list of some of the most popular edible flowers to grow, harvest, dry and use in your baking and cooking.
Pansies are considered one of the most popular edible flowers. I have wonderful memories of buying hand picked salad at the farmers market and seeing beautiful purple and orange blossoms in the salad bag. Pansies!
I would also often purchase dried pansies to add to my baking, especially for cakes. You can bake dried pansies and flower petals right into your cake batter for a beautiful effect, or sprinkle them dried or fresh right on top. Pansies compliment a buttercream icing for cake beautifully. They are also beautiful on brownies for presentation! Stack your brownies and top with some simple pansies and some large granules of salt for a wow effect.
You can also garnish a cheese with pansies. Try getting a goat cheese log and with saran wrap, pressing pansies into it for a fantastic presentation.
Another really gorgeous way you can use edible pansies in your garnishes is by freezing them in ice cubes. You can add them to a glass of homemade lemonade with a few mint leaves and you have yourself a wow of a drink!
Plus, freezing your pansies in ice cubes is a great way to preserve them into the later, hotter months as pansies typically tend to not like the heat.
Bright, bold and beautiful are the sunny marigold. Another gorgeous addition to ice for your summer drinks, or great for cakes. Marigolds have a slightly citrus flavor and a bolder scent, which can often turn people away from using the whole flower. Try rough cutting marigolds fresh or dried petals into a more robust dish such as your salad or fruit salads for a burst of color! Pair them with dried cranberries and a sweet poppy seed dressing.
Marigolds are another of the brightly colored flowers that can be dried and added to baking. Just remember, with this flower and its stronger scent and citrus, less is more.
Marigolds are another flower you can add to decorate your cheese with! Cut up the blossoms and serve goats cheese or a brie with beautiful colors on it. Add some pansies or violets and the orange and yellows of the marigolds will be stunning. Drizzle with a bit of honey and sprinkle some other flowers and herbs around on a charcuterie board and your guests will love it!
Believe it or not, the colorful Nasturtium is a member of the brassica family. Think broccoli, kale, cauliflower. Light and peppery in flavor, the Nasturtium is an excellent choice for any dish. It is especially bright and bold in garden or fruit salads.
It is best to enjoy the edible blossoms of the Nasturtium as the back can have a pocket that may harbor little stowaways from the garden.
4. Pea Flowers
Peas are a climbing vine type of flower that produces soft, delicate blooms in all shades of pink and peas are easy to grow. When you are looking for pea blossoms that are edible, make sure you get snow peas or sugar peas, or the Pisum sativum sweet peas, and not ornamental ones.
Whenever you see the word ornamental, it means for looking at, not eating. Ornamental sweet peas are not edible.
Because of the delicacy of pea flowers, they may not hold up well in ice or in a batter, but will do well in salads. Especially if you premix your salad and add the flowers on top as a garnish. These blossoms have a mildly sweet taste.
Roses of course come in every imaginable color and are one of the very sweetly scented flowers. Brilliant reds, pinks, peaches and yellows to ivories and bright whites. Highly scented in a soft and sweet perfumed scent, rose petals may be overpowering in a dish that is meant to be savory (unless it is the perfect compliment? We'll leave that up to you).
You can add rose blossoms to ice for colorful drinks, to drinks such as ice tea or hot tea, to cake and cupcake batters, you can garnish cakes with rose flower petals and you can dehydrate both rose petals and rosehips for later use.
Roses also look incredible as decorations on a chocolate cake, no matter what color they are.
Bright, warm colors and flowers that are easy to grow. Calendulas have many uses but our favorite is to eat them. If you are planning on eating calendulas, pick off the petals and discard the rest of the flower. The flower petals are the edible part of this plant.
Use the colorful petals in your salads and even in salad dressings. What is really nice about calendulas is that the plant will continue to bloom if you cut the whole flower off and leave the stem in tact.
I absolutely love growing chamomile, but I prefer to buy chamomile plants as starters and put them into planters around my deck. These are the sweetest, little tiny flowers that are so fragrant!
Chamomile plants will produce many little flowers that look like little daisies. Soft and fragrant, you can harvest the flowers and the plant will continue to produce flowers for you. You can also purchase it dried for culinary use.
Chamomile is absolutely amazing dried and added to tea, as long as you are not allergic. The fragrance of these fresh edible flowers is unforgettable. You can also add chamomile to sweeter desserts and dishes. Try it on top of green tea ice cream!
Often considered a weed, yet is one of the most common edible flowers you can eat is the misunderstood dandelion. We love the dandelions around our house as it is the one flower you can count on blooming for our honey bees when they are in need of pollen.
Dandelions are one of the most versatile flowers out there as you can eat all of it; both the flowers and leaves. A word of caution before harvesting your front yard yellow blooms though; make sure you harvest from a place that does not use pesticides and where wandering dogs or other animals don't have access to.
When picking dandelions for eating, if you pick them before they bloom and when they are still unopened flower buds, they will have a very sweet taste.
Dandelions can be harvested after they bloom as well; sprinkle the small yellow petals into your pasta dishes or into rice for a burst of color. You can also use them to look like confetti on your cakes, cookies and cupcakes.
Dandelion greens are also edible! You can steam them or add them to salads.
Dried dandelions also make a good tea.
9. Garlic flowers (scapes)
Garlic scapes are easy to spot. As your garlic grows and matures, a tall and slightly pink to purple bulb will start to form. What is unique about garlic flowers is that you will know when they are ready to eat; once they make a full curl in their stem they are ready to harvest.
Harvesting the young flower bulbs from your garlic actually helps your garlic bulbs develop. Instead of the plant putting all of that growing energy into the flower, it will now put it into the root; the garlic bulb. Bonus!
Once you harvest your garlic scapes, you can make them a dish all on their own. Look up some fantastic garlic scape recipes. My favorite is to fry them in a cast iron pan in some oil, butter and spices and have them with a beautiful grilled steak.
Garlic scapes are also a fantastic flower that you can pickle! These edible flowers are just a wonderful bonus to garlic harvesting and should not go uneaten!
A fragrant floral that is complimentary to many dishes is lavender. Lavender comes in a periwinkle purple and is so deeply fragrant, it is often used to make essential oils.
The scent and flavor of lavender can overpower many dishes, so use it wisely.
Lavender sprigs are often used fresh as a garnish on desserts like cake, crème brulée and fancier puddings and tortes.
More commonly used in dishes is dried lavender. If you are drying, you will likely use just the individual blossoms. This is one you can actually dry and use in potpourri pouches and in tea.
11. Scarlet Runner Beans Flowers
Beautiful deep red blossoms and a slightly peppery flavor define the scarlet runner bean flowers. These are some edible flowers that are great in soups! Use them to add color to a neutral colored soup like mushroom or chicken. These flowers are also a friend to salads.
12. Squash Blossoms
Have you ever been to a restaurant and have seen stuffed squash flowers on the menu? These orange-yellow flowers are totally delicious and are robust, so they can hold up to being stuffed, fried or baked.
Zucchini are the most popular squash flower to cook with and eat, but you can also eat:
- summer squash flowers
- winter squash flowers
- pumpkin blossoms
Squash produce both male and female flowers. If you want to harvest the squash fruit, then you should only pick and consume the male flowers. If you are growing just for the flowers to eat, then go ahead and harvest to your hearts content!
You can stuff a squash blossom with any kind of cheese like cream cheese or goat cheese, and you can fry them or bake them. Try them in pasta such as a risotto, or in a soup. Squash blossoms are very versatile when it comes to edible flowers.
One of our most favorite, fragrant flowers are violets. When you have violets growing in your garden or right in your lawn, you can actually smell their sweet perfume in the air.
Violets blossom in early spring and are a bright purple color. They have a very sweet smell and therefore are the best edible flower for cakes and other desserts.
Violets are another great flower you can freeze in ice cubes to use for summer drinks, and they can also be made into a delicious violet jelly for toasts or cookies.
Both violets and pansies are great flowers for cookies. We especially love placing them in the center of a sugar cookie to serve with tea.
Summary for edible flowers
- There are many flowers that are edible and depending on what you want to add your flowers to, they come in either a peppery, more savory flavor and scent or a softer, sweeter flavor and fragrance
- You can grow your own edible flowers in your own garden or buy them from a nursery or greenhouse
- The best edible flowers for cooking or for savory dishes include squash flowers, scarlet runner bean flowers, garlic flowers (scapes), dandelion, marigolds and nasturtium
- The flowers that are best to add to cake and desserts include lavender, violets, chamomile, calendula, roses, sweet peas and pansies
- Flowers that are best to freeze in ice for drinks are pansies, violets and rose petals. These flowers are bright and will hold up to the freezing of the ice so you will be able to see them clearly and their flavor will compliment a summer drink such as lemonade or iced tea
- The best flowers that can be cooked and eaten on their own are squash blossoms and garlic scapes
Here are some other questions people are asking about edible flowers:
What edible flowers are for cakes?
Yes, you can eat flowers. But only certain varieties, and these edible flowers you can put on cakes as gorgeous décor. They include lavender, violets, chamomile, calandula, roses, sweet peas and pansies. These flowers are sweet and fragrant and vary in color to bring your cake decorating to top notch.
What are purple edible flowers?
Purple edible flowers include violets, pansies, lavender and sweet peas which come in different shades of pinks and purples.
Where to buy edible flowers?
Edible flowers can be bought all over the internet, we would suggest shopping on Etsy if you want to buy freeze-dried flowers or dried flowers, and if you want to grow your own edible flower garden, try West Coast Seeds.
Where to buy edible flower seeds?
You can buy edible flower seeds from West Coast Seeds and from Seeds.com
How To Prepare Edible Flowers
Most edible flowers can be gently washed and eaten fresh in fruit salad, green salads, or you can toss individual petals into sweet or savory dishes.
What kind of flowers can you put in drinks?
You can put any edible flowers in drinks; either right in the drink, on the edge of your drink glass as a garnish or frozen in the drink ice cubes.
What is the tastiest edible flower?
In terms of sweetness, the tastiest edible flower is lavender. If you want savory flavor, the tastiest edible flower will be a garlic scape.
How do you dehydrate flowers for eating?
Flowers can be either dried in a dehydrator or in a freeze dryer. If you are looking for a good dehydrator, be sure to read our article about the Best Dehydrators For Fruit; the same principles will apply to your flowers for culinary drying!
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