On a trip many years ago to India, I had wanted to try authentic cuisine. But my tour group and I weren’t ready for a full grand meal. Our stomachs had to acclimate first to the spices and flavors.
One day after a humid tour around popular tourist spots, I asked the kind tour guide if there was any local iced tea or soft-serve ice cream I could try. With the biggest smile, he brought me to a quaint cafe. There he expertly ordered a faluda. A what?
A pretty glass of brightly colored pink beverage was served on my table. It was milky like bubble tea, but there was a flavor I could not place. I gave a quizzical look, and the guide simply said, “that’s a rose!”
Rose-water and rose-flavored anything wasn’t quite popular then. This experience was eye-opening and educational. Flowers are edible!
In This Article
The Culinary History of Flowers
The Chinese, Greeks, and Romans have recipes, dating back to thousands of years, that use flowers for cooking, not just for garnishing. Cultures all over the world use edible flowers for traditional and authentic cooking, just like the rose petals of India.
Add them to any to food such as desserts, salads, or teas. These flowers give color and a unique flavor to any dish.
The Flavor Range of Edible Flowers
With flowers having a wide range of flavors, it has inspired many culinary artists to cook them in different ways for different dishes. Floral and fragrant flowers are great as a garnish, tea, cocktails, or ice cream. Spicy and earthy flavored flowers are great additions to salads, pasta dough, or pies.
The Safe Way To Eat Flowers
Now before you go on picking blossoms on your garden, a word of warning. Not every flower is edible. As some popular houseplants are toxic, some flowers are poisonous. Do an ample amount of research before adding them to any of your meals. Remember these things to eat flowers safely:
Don’t rely on common sense to determine whether a flower is edible or not. Purchase a reference book that has credible research.
Don’t eat flowers that were not grown by you. Or by someone you are sure only uses organic products. Flowers from shops or nurseries are often grown for display and not for cooking. Chances are, they’ve used chemicals and pesticides on the flowers.
Don’t pick flowers from public parks or roads. Besides the risk that they may have been treated, they are often exposed to dirt and car exhaust. Flowers from hiking or nature trips may be eaten, with all other factors of safety in mind.
Don’t eat the pistils and stamens. Petals are the edible parts of most flowers. There are other plants, though, that can be consumed and cooked in different ways.
Don’t forget your allergies! Always be mindful of your health. You can still eat flowers, but you will have to introduce this into your diet gradually.
Edible Flowers You Can Eat and Enjoy
Let’s start with my first flower culinary experience. All roses are edible, with flavors differing in variety. Lighter varieties have a slightly sweet taste, which can be a perfect addition to desserts and drinks. Petals can be made into jellies or sweet syrups. The darker varieties have a more prominent flavor and can go with salads, steak sauces, or spreads. For roses, only eat the petals, remove leaves and stems as they are not palatable.
You may already be consuming chamomile as a tea. Though a little flower, this plant has plenty of health benefits to boast about. As a hot drink, it is full of anti-inflammatory properties. So if you have digestion problems, a low blood sugar, or a problem sleeping at night, chamomile tea is a go-to drink.
The petals of the carnation are sweet and give off a perfumed aroma. You must cut it away from the bitter white base of the flower. One interesting fact: the carnation petals is the secret ingredient to make Chartreuse.
All parts of the dandelion are edible. The leaves can be tossed in salads and can be cooked into stews. The flowers can be pressed into tea. There is even dandelion vinegar, honey, and wine. It’s amazing how all parts of this plant can be enjoyed! Not only that, dandelions are a whole lot nutritious. They are high in antioxidants and full of vitamins such as A, B, C, E, and K.
A traditional Chinese medicine, the honeysuckle has sweet nectar. You can use it as a flavoring for cold beverages, or you can even eat it directly from the flower! Often, the flowers of the honeysuckle are made into tea or syrups. But avoid eating the berries as they are poisonous.
Exquisite and calming, the lavender herb has a distinctive taste that can be added to desserts, infused in teas, or dried into spice. The health benefits of the lavender include: calming stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and alleviating symptoms of depression.
The Blossoms of Zucchinis, Squash, and Pumpkins
Summer squashes and zucchinis are a staple on dining tables. But the flowers are edible too! With a slightly sweet taste, you can add the blossoms on salads. With some cheese, you can bake them, or you can also use the blossoms as stuffings.
Plenty of flowers are edible! We recommend checking this list to know more about how to choose edible flowers.
One last tip: keep flowers fresh by placing them on moist paper towels. Place them in an airtight container and refrigerate. Enjoy!