Borage flowers have a cucumber flavor. Photo by Matsuyuki under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Struffed squash blossoms are popular with cooks. Photo by Laurel Fan under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Violets make gorgeous cake decorations or candied flowers. Photo by Il conte di luna under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
While you’re harvesting your fruits and veggies this summer for the dinner table…why not keep an eye out for edible flowers, too? They can add color, flavor, vitamins and originality to culinary dishes. In fact, I planted some nasturtiums this year in my new front lawn garden bed for two reasons. To attract beneficial insects and to brighten my salads up by adding bright color and peppery flavor.
A couple of things to think about before you go around harvesting lovely blossoms in your yard. First, not only are some inedible, but many are downright dangerous such as Foxglove (Digitalis). So, be very certain that you’ve properly identified your flowers before choosing them to add to culinary dishes. Second, you don’t want to harvest and ingest flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides. The last thing is to try each flower variety one at a time so you can be aware of any allergic reactions that may show up if you (or a family member) hasn’t eaten them before.
You’ll also want to choose flowers that are fresh and not old or faded if you want the best flower (and color). Most gardeners that I know remove the stems, pistils, anthers and the like and just use the petals before using them. Once exception is the squash blossoms. You’ll want to leave the stems (but not the anthers) on those for sure to make stuffing them easier, as well as for presentation.
Edible Flower List
Edible flowers can be candied, used for baking, in sauces, oil, and vinegars. They’re also popular in salads, syrup, teas, jellies, and flavored wines. Here’s a short list of some delicious flowers that you may want to give a go in the kitchen. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive edible flower list by any means.
- Rose – These have a very perfumy flavor and vary from sweet to bitter.
- Nasturtium – These have a peppery taste.
- Squash Blossoms -These flowers are usually used for stuffing and taste rather like the the fruit that they would have grow to be if left on the vine.
- Calendula (Pot marigold) – Marigolds have peppery flavor.
- Violets – These petals have a sweet flavor.
- Dianthus – These have a spicy, clove-like flavor.
- Borage – These flowers have a cucumber flavor.
- Garlic chive blossoms – These blossoms taste onion-y.
- Lovage – These petals have a mild celery-taste.
- Mint blossoms – These taste fresh and have a milder mint flavor than the leaves.
- Basil blossoms – These flowers have that spicy basil flavor but much milder than the leaves.
- English chamomile – These blossoms taste like a sweet apple.
- Lilac – The flavor is a little bit bitter and perfumy.
- Summer & Winter Savories – The flowers from these herbs are slightly peppery.
- Scented geranium – The flavor will depend on the variety of geranium such as lemon, chocolate, rose, etc)
- Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) – These have a mildly nutty flavor.
More about edible flowers:
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