Flowers have been used in cuisine since the dawn of time, but rarely do you see a rose, blossom, or a daisy in your salad at a North American restaurant. If the cauliflower is the closest you’ve been to cooking with blooms, you’re missing out!
There are tons of yummy flowers to eat, prepare, grow, and harvest. Let’s take a look at the top six types of edible flowers you’ll enjoy eating!
Top 6 Edible Flowers That Are Packed with Nutrients
You can find plenty of edible flowers on the market, but the following will work with most meals and taste preferences.
Always wash your flowers, like you would vegetables, before eating them. Flowers are often treated with pesticides, which could upset your stomach.
1. Zucchini Blossoms
Squash blossoms are the flowers that form on a squash plant before they start growing the squash itself. If you pluck the blossoms early or have a male zucchini plant, you can indulge in its tasty petals that taste similar to the squash vegetable and contain all the same nutrients.
This editable flower can be prepared in various ways, including stuffed with ricotta, cheese, or deep-fried until crispy.
Growing a zucchini plant is easy enough. You just need to ensure they get plenty of water and pollinators. To cut the Zucchini blossom off the plant, remove the petals with the stamen intact, and wash the base and petals under cold, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
We’re all familiar with the weed that pops up in our gardens and never seems to disappear, but you may be happy to hear that they’re one of the best on the list of edible flowers. Raw Dandelions include vitamins A, B, C, E, K, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Check out this simple fried Dandelion recipe by emmymade:
Young Dandelions taste precisely like honey, but older plants will be bitter. You can steep them in tea, bake them in bread, or add them to salads.
To harvest a dandelion, pull out the entire flower with the root intact. The root contains the bulk of the nutrients. Never harvest Dandelions from an unknown source, as most homeowners will use pesticides to rid them from their lawns.
The most commonly gifted flower, the rose, actually tastes pretty good when it isn’t laced with pesticides. A word of caution: only buy roses from a naturally grown garden.
Roses that are filled with nutrients like vitamin A, C, E, calcium, iron, and antioxidants, just be sure they’re pesticide-free.
When candied, they taste like sweet strawberries. When eaten in a salad, they offer a deep fragrant flavor that’s perfect in salads and desserts.
Roses grow from bushes and typically won’t sprout out of the ground without some love and care, so be sure to plant them in an area with access to both sun and shade. To harvest them, snip the stem while avoiding the thorns.
The Nasturtium is a unique flower that tastes like pepper with a bit of added spice. It’s commonly found in Mexican cuisine and ethnic foods.
Nasturtiums are high in vitamin B1, B2, B3, C, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and calcium. This flower comes in bright yellow and deep orange.
Use Nasturtiums to dress any salad, or you can stuff them with meats and cheeses. When crushed, they make yummy pesto or brushes for savory dishes like lamb.
Nasturtiums need to grow inside before being placed into the ground, but they aren’t finicky afterward. To harvest them, snip their stems. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly, as ants love to sleep in their petals.
While Pansies are definitely tasty with their minty, earthy flavor, they are also prized for their bright colors.
Pansies are loaded with antioxidants, do wonders for your heart health and skin. If you want to buy a bag of pansies, they’re typically found at health food stores, dried or fresh.
Pansies are primarily used for garnishes because they add a lot of color to any dish. However, they are used as an appetizer dish when accompanied by cheese or meat.
Pansies are annuals that die every year and need to be replanted, but they are quick to grow and don’t need too much care. To harvest them, grab the Pansy straight from the root and pull upwards.
The Hibiscus flower is quite famous in Asia for its healthy properties when steeped in tea. Even when eaten cooked, the Hibiscus is packed with antioxidants, helps lower blood pressure, lower body fat levels, promotes weight loss, boosts liver health, and can help fight bacteria.
While primarily used as a tea, the Hibiscus has a tart, citrusy flavor that tastes great in oatmeal and yogurts.
Plant hibiscus in full sun, either in spring or late spring/early summer, and be sure to water the plants thoroughly at the time of planting. Bring them indoors during the winter. To harvest them, be sure to keep the stamen intact when pruning the stems off the plant.
Final Thoughts on Edible Flowers
Anyone can cook with the flowers they grow in their backyard (as long as they aren’t poisonous to humans or treated with pesticides), but our picks are both nutritious and delicious.
While cooking with florals requires a bit of a learning curve, you’ll be making incredible flower-based recipes in no time!
References and Useful Resources
Great British Chefs: Edible Flowers Recipes
Heal with Food: How to Safely Eat Edible Flowers
Livestrong: Nutritional Value of Edible Flowers
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most popular edible flowers?
Violets, Sage, Pansies, Roses, Lavender, Nasturtiums, Hibiscus, Calendula, Zucchini blossoms, and Borage blossoms are some of the most popular edible flowers in the world. They’re 100% safe to consume as long as you wash them thoroughly if you plan to eat them raw. Always try a flower and wait 24 hours before putting them in a recipe, as you could be allergic. While rare, people with seasonal allergies may feel ill if they eat the pollen on flowers.
Are there some flowers that can kill you if ingested?
While most of the flowers you find at a supermarket, grocery store, or florist won’t kill you if ingested, some commonly found flowering plants will. Daphne, Deadly Nightshade, Angel’s Trumpet, Azaleas, Oleander, Hemlock, and Wolf’s Bane are incredibly poisonous. Always research each flower you plan to consume and go to the hospital immediately if you’ve consumed any fatal flower’s petals, berries, roots, or leaves.
Can I eat rose petals from a florist?
Roses are the most pesticide-ridden flowers in the world. Their delicate nature makes them a prime target for bacteria and bugs; thus, florists will use chemicals and fertilizers to protect them from harm. Always ask the florist if they use pesticides when growing their flowers, but if you want to stay on the safe side, grow roses in your backyard or inside your home.