Did You Know That You Can Eat Flowers? You Didn't?
Well, you can, and here are fifty edible flowers, to get you started!
My husband thinks I'll eat anything that grows, but as much as he teases me, he knows a lot about eating flowers, too! Come to think of it though, he did have a funny look on his face, the day that I plucked some hibiscus flowers from his bushes, and ate them!
I have actually eaten hundreds of gorgeous flower blossoms over the last 60 plus years, including many of the ones below. Unfortunately, it did not seem to make me beautiful, like these flowers are. Oh, well...
Did you know that you can eat the flowers of: borage, roses, hibiscus, moringa, carnation, tiger lilies, squash, garlic, rosemary, violets, plum trees, begonias, geraniums, and many, many more? Oh, I see...some of you did, and some of you didn't. Well, after you read about some of these flowers - you'll all know which ones are edible. You are never too old to learn, and we think these are some of the tastiest, best edible flowers to eat!
So, let's see what flowers you can add to your diet. Some flowers aren't just beautiful, they are edible! There are 50 edible flowers listed here, to get you started!
This incredible red, white, and blue blossom is the first of our edible flowers - BORAGE!
See below, for how the flowers look, how they taste, how to use them in the kitchen, and some interesting facts about how they have graced our ancestors' tables.
In order of "showy" appearance - Edible Flowers 1-10 are:
Borage, Carnations, Moringa, Roses, Violets, Tiger Lilies, Red Clover, Pansies, Lilacs, and Nasturtiums.
2: Carnations - Not Just For Show!
I'll bet you didn't know that carnations are not just for bouquets and boutonnieres - but can be eaten, too! They are used extensively in ethnic desserts, and are one of the 130 different essential plant ingredients used in the ultra-secret recipe for the renowned French beverage, Chartreuse.
Grown all over the world, carnations just happen to be the national flower of Spain, and the scarlet carnation is the official state flower of Ohio.
On the Dave's Garden website, we found a recipe dating back to 1629, for Carnation Pickle. Now, that's just plain interesting, and the article that accompanies it, is too. Take a moment to read it, as it is very historically enlightening, and you just might like to try it! Now, how often can you get your hands on a recipe that is almost 400 years old? I'll answer that. Not - very - often.
Word is - eat them in moderation, and make certain you are eating a carnations that are organically grown, pesticide-free, and a variety that is known to be safe.
3: Moringa Blossoms - Yum!
From a moringa lover - that would be ME - it should come as no surprise, that you can eat the flowers from moringa trees. This a photo of some of mine, growing from my dearly beloved moringa oleifera trees that are only about 1½ years old. See the little flower buds? They are edible, too!
Both the flowers and the buds should be lightly cooked before eating, and you can make a delightful tea, reputed to be good for just about "whatever ails you"! Traditionally, in their native countries, they are eaten to alleviate a cold, but I don't get colds, so I couldn't say if they help, or not!
When they are lightly sautéed in a little water, with a touch of butter, or olive oil and garlic and salt - just until they "wilt" - um, um...good! They taste like the softest, most delicate vegetable you have ever eaten; NOT like mushrooms, as is the general consensus. We use them in our own recipes for: Moringa Spinach Artichoke Dip, Moringa Pizza, Moringa Onion Manchego Omelette, Portabello Mushroom Moringa Tower, Meatless Moringa Wholegrain Leafloaf, Moringa Garlic Quinoa, Moringa Guacamolé, and several others.
WARNING - We have read from two sources, that expectant mothers should not eat the Moringa blossoms, as there is reason to believe that they could act as an abortifacient. Please exercise caution, as we do not want to be the cause of a woman losing her baby!
4: Don't Smell The Roses - Eat The Roses!
The state flower of New York, is the rose. Does there exist a more exquisite flower? Personally, I am torn between my husband's orchids, and roses. He grows quite a few stupendously magnificent ones, but - I would not dare to suggest eating one!
But, roses? That's a different story, altogether. According to my research, all roses are edible. Not only are their "rose hips" loaded with Vitamin C, but the petals are also nutritious, albeit a bit "perfumery" to the taste buds.
Rose blossoms can be incorporated into many main dishes. I found them in recipes using quail, chicken, beef, and pork. They have also been used in aged beverages, spice blends, homemade bread, muffins, ravioli, pasta, soup, stew, quiche, jellies, syrups, candy, and ice cream or - they can be used as an elegant garnish to any entreé. The best part is - you can eat the garnish!
Here are just a few, to "wet your whistle": Rose Petal Butter, Honey Glazed Chicken with Roses, Rose Petal Bread, Rose Petal Jam Linguine, Rose Pesto, Rose Turkish Delight, Persian Rose Cake, Rose Cheesecake, Pickled Rosebuds, Scrambled Rose Omelette, Rose Tuna Salad, and Rose Petal Sorbet.
5: Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...
Actually, most violets are purple - so why the rhyme? I never understood that one. "Purple" is a hard word to rhyme, so maybe that's the answer - but there are a lot of flowers that are blue, which would have worked...oh, well...
As far as violets go, I eat them! How about you? If you would like to grow your own edible violets, but have trouble getting them to cooperate, try checking out the USDA Plant Database page for Viola. On that page, down toward the bottom of the page, you can see which variety thrives in your area. Evidently, violets grow just about everywhere on the North American continent, and we know they are grown by violet lovers, all over the world!
Four states, in the USA, honor violets - as either their official state flower, or their official native flower. They are:
- Wisconsin - the wood violet, Viola papilionacea
- Rhode Island - Viola sororia
- New Jersey - the common meadow violet, Viola sororia
- Illinois - the native violet - Violacea.
They are such delicate, beautiful flowers, and have been known as edible flowers for many centuries. One old recipe, on the "web", listed violets combined with wild onion in a salad. Some old cookbooks list: Violet Jelly, Violet Mustard, Violet Soup, Violet Salad, and Violet Pudding. Some of the cookbooks featured here, offer recipes with violet flowers in them. All seem to agree that they are nutritious, and delicious!
6: Tiger Lily - They're Nothing Like A Tiger!
Well, they have orange and black in them, but that's as far as it goes. Once, we had a mass of tiger lilies growing in our yard, but very few ever got to bloom, because I ate the buds! They are simply delicious, sautéed lightly, with a touch of butter, garlic, and sea salt, but I usually ate them raw.
Botanically speaking, the tiger lilies that we had, were Lilium lancifolium, which was formerly called Lilium tigrinum. In Florida, where I am located, I understand that they are on the endangered species list. I didn't KNOW that, when I was blissfully consuming them! Oh, well - they had lots of blooms, and I didn't eat anything but the flower buds, so I don't imagine I'll be in trouble for that! If you have them growing in your yard - sample them, but don't eat the bulbs! We want these flowers to propagate, and be around for a long, long time. They are a welcome change to the standard vegetables that we've grown accustomed to eating!
7: Red Clover - For Cuisine And Cleansing
Another of my favorite edible flowers. When I used to pluck plump red clover blossoms, and pop them into my mouth, I didn't even know that they were good for you! I just liked them, and still do.
Red clover is the state flower of Vermont, and the national flower of Denmark. One variety or another, can be found in all 50 states, here in America - and it grows profusely with very little care.
Traditionally, red clover has been honored as a powerful blood cleanser, but it has also been a time-honored ingredient in rice dishes, soups, spreads, cornbread, lemonade, biscuits, pancakes, drinks, and desserts. We found these red clover recipes, online: Red Clover Almond Biscuits, Red Clover Pancakes, Red Clover Rice, and Rose and Clover Jelly, just to name a few. Over the centuries, red clover has found a niche in flavoring many different edibles; one of the most prominent being - cheese. Red Clover Aged Cheese...doesn't that sound like a delight to the eyes?
8 - Pansy - Petite And Pretty...
Oh, I was so excited, when I found out that you can eat pansies! The pansy, is one of my all-time favorite flowers. They come in SO many different colors, and contrasting combinations, and all are edible!
We found recipes for such delicacies as Pansy Melon Salad; Pansy Herb salad; Pansy Popsicles, Spinach Pansy Quiche, and Candied Pansies, Pansy 'N' Chicken Tossed Salad, Pansy-Rotti, a.k.a. Vegan Panzarotti, Wholemeal Red and Yellow Pepper Quiche with Pansies, Lemon Jellyroll with Pansies, and a lot more!
Several creative chefs recommend decorating cakes with pansies, which definitely adds a splash of color and interest. Pansies are a terrific garnish, that can make an otherwise nondescript dish, look like it is fit for a king!
9 - Lilacs - Another Purple Edible!
Think about it - there just aren't many vegetables or fruits we eat, that are purple, are there? So, how do you feel about adding lilacs to your food? Lilacs have been used as edible flowers as far back as I can research. Not only do they make a vibrant garnish, but their purple petals are delicious, too!
New Hampshire made purple lilacs the official state flower, in 1919, although, in 1991 - pink lady's slipper replaced it. What a shame! The entire species, Syringa is the state flower of Idaho, though - and they haven't replaced it!
Lilacs have been used "in the kitchen" for centuries, and there is no lack of advice, as to how to eat lilacs. Since the 17th century, when they first arrived in America, to the present - chefs have used them to make: Lilac Sorbet, Candied Lilacs, Lilac Cream Crepes, Lilac Blossom Yogurt, Lilac Syrup, Panna Cotta with Lilac, Lilac Jelly, Lilac Muffins, and more.
If you live where you can grow lilacs, don't miss out on this incredible taste sensation!
10 - The Peppery Nasturtium
When I was a youngster, in Ohio, we had lots of nasturtiums growing in our yard. Most of them seemed to be "volunteers", and they were plentiful! I knew they were an edible flower, "way back then", and thought that was just one of the neatest things, ever! Of course, my husband says that I am easily amused - and, he's right. Everything in God's creation astounds, awes, and amazes me.
Nasturtiums come in so many different varieties and colors, but all of them are edible. For a crisp, peppery taste, add nasturtium flowers to any salad, wrap, or dip. Some recipes we found, were: Nasturtium Mayonnaise, Nasturtium Lemon Butter, Nikos Nasturtium Soup, Nasturtium Sandwiches, Nasturtium and Grape Salad, and Stuffed Nasturtiums, among many others.. For pasta lovers, they add some lovely color to the dish, and blend well into chili, and spaghetti sauce. Added to pizza, right towards the end, they add a spiciness that is lovely, and are wonderful in one of my all-time favorites - guacamolé.
What Do 1 - 10 Taste Like?
Well, for the first ten, the general consensus, is that they taste:
- Borage blossoms - like cucumber;
- Carnations - sweet and spicy to bitter and sour;
- Moringa blossoms - like the softest, mild, vegetable you have ever eaten;
- Roses - from strawberries to sour- depending on the variety;
- Violets - sweet, and perfumey;
- Tiger Lilies - like soft, delicate squash;
- Red Clover - mildly sweet, with a touch of anise;
- Pansy - sweet, fresh, grassy;
- Lilacs - sweet, flowery, lemony or bitter - they vary;
- Nasturtium - peppery and spicy.
Everyone's taste buds are different, you know, so yours may detect a completely different taste sensation!
Edible Flowers 11-20 are: Hollyhocks, Lavender, Dandelion, Hibiscus, Squash Blossoms, Honeysuckle, Primrose, Bachelor Buttons, Jasmine, and Tulips.
Read the "Common Sense Cautions" section, below.
Many edible flowers closely resemble other blossoms, which are not edible.
As it is with anything else that you ingest - be sure that you know exactly what you are eating!
11 - Hollyhocks - The Holy Mallow
On a farm in Ohio, where we lived for a very short time, there were hollyhocks growing, along a long fence. I just loved them, and I still do! Little did I know, then, that they were edible! Supposedly, they taste like - well, you'll see, below...
We actually found a reference to Hollyhock and Hybrid Begonia Hot Dogs, Hollyhock Soup, and Hollyhock Salad, but it seems that most chefs prefer to float them atop soup, or use them as showy garnishes.
They are not considered to be a first choice, in the long list of various edible flowers. Perhaps one of the reasons, is that some people find them very difficult to grow. For those who get them successfully "up and running", their delight is often short-lived, as squirrels, deer, horses, and rabbits like to eat them!
12- Dandelion - The Lion's Tooth
That's what the name means, you know. How many of you eradicate this tasty, nourishing flower from your lawns? Shame on you - eat them!
Most people know that you can eat dandelion greens, and make dandelion drinks, but it seems that dandelion's beautiful edible blooms have long gone unnoticed! The tip of my nose used to be yellow, from rubbing the dandelion flowers all over it, but, back then - I never got them a little bit lower - into my mouth! Actually, it's probably a good thing that I didn't, because you are ONLY supposed to eat dandelion flowers, after they have been cooked!
Nevertheless, many Oriental restaurants garnish rice with the raw petals, and we have found recipes using dandelions, such as: Dandelion Salad, Dandelion Soup, Dandelion Egg Salad, Dandelion "Mushrooms", Cream of Dandelion Soup, Pumpkin-Dandelion Soup, Split Pea-Dandelion Bud Soup, Potatoes and Dandelions, Sautéed Dandelion Blossoms, Dandelion Potato Gratin, and Chicken and Dandelion Soup.
13 - Lovely Lacy Lavender
Not only are lavender blossoms one of the most fragrant flowers around, but they are delightfully tasty, when added to your food. So many dishes that are standard fare, just look dull and drab. Lavender flowers are one way to dramatically change that!
Fancy by nature, they add an elegant look to any meal, and nutrition - to boot! We found quite a few intriguing recipes using lavender. How do these sound? Blueberry Lavender Cranberry Crisp, Lavender Mini Meatballs, Lavender Syrup, Lavender Sauce, Lavender Ice Cream, Lavender Blossom Yogurt, Lavender Banana Smoothie, Lavender Tea Cookies, Tangerine-Lavender Sorbet, Tomato Lavender Jam, Almond Lemon Lavender Biscotti, Grilled Pork Chops with Lavender Flowers, Lavender Creme Brulee, Lavender Custard, Lavender Jelly, Lavender Focaccia, Lavender Hazelnut Bread, Peppered Lavender Beef, and Lavender Shortbread. The possibilities are endless!
14 - Heavenly Hibiscus
One US state - Hawaii, and two countries - South Korea and Malaysia, claim the hibiscus as their official flower. Where I live, these flowers grow abundantly, and I think that hibiscus flowers are one of the tastiest flowers you can eat. Most people know that you can use hibiscus petals to make rosy-hued hibiscus tea, but they are unaware that the blossoms are edible, too!
I like to eat the hibiscus flower buds, before they open, right off the bush. Most people are familiar with Hibiscus Tea, which is marvelous by the way, but people eat hibiscus buds and flowers in many other ways, too. Take a look at some of the dishes we found, that are made with hibiscus: Spiced Jamaica Hibiscus, Sautéed Hibiscus Pods, Hibiscus-Marinated Leg of Lamb, African Hibiscus Punch, Adobo Beef Salad with Apricot, Ginger and Hibiscus Salsa, Hibiscus Fruit Salad and Seared Duck Breast With Hibiscus Flowers.
15 - Squash Blossoms - Better Than Squash!
This one, I learned about from my husband. His mother used to fry up squash blossoms, and he said they were wonderful! I had no idea that they were edible. When I was a young child, I dreaded the "mushy" squash that my mother used to cook. It was awful! I wish she knew about squash blossoms - those, I'd have loved!
As an adult, I learned to eat my squash raw. That is really good, and my husband makes fried squash chips, which are tasty, but I still don't care for it "mushy". However, the squash blossoms are great!
Now, don't turn a deaf ear, here, just because you don't like cooked squash - I'll bet you will love squash blossoms! You don't think so? Well, how about: Squash Blossom Rice, Squash Blossom Frittata with Asiago Cheese, Fried Squash Blossoms, Squash Blossom Fritters, Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Squash Blossom Soup, Squash Blossom Quesadillas...do I have your attention, yet?
16 - Honeysuckle - Not Only For The Bees!
Who hasn't sucked the sweet, honey-like nectar from honeysuckle blossoms? What a delightful taste!
Did anyone ever tell you, though, that you can actually eat the honeysuckle flowers?
Growing up, I was only familiar with the white honeysuckle blossoms; I didn't know they bloomed in any other color. Then I discovered that honeysuckle plants bloom in a variety of colors. Look at this incredible image, from Luc Viatour. Check out his photography, in the Photo credits, at the end of the article.
Some savvy cooks use honeysuckle flowers to make: Honeysuckle Sorbet, Witch Bread - Clairnova with crushed, dried honeysuckle flowers, Honeysuckle Ice Cream, and Honeysuckle Jelly. Interesting, no? If you are fortunate enough to have honeysuckles growing in your area, experiment with some sweet recipes of your own - just watch out for the bees!
17 - Primrose - The Portender of Spring
Tradition says that primroses are the first flowers to bloom in the spring. I'll bet that you didn't know you could eat the flowers, though - did you? Well, you can, and this is NOT a recent discovery, either! People have been eating primroses for centuries. Some people call primroses "cowslip", but they are not really the same flower.
Some of the recipes we found, for eating primroses, are: Primrose Pudding, Candied Primroses, Lattice Topped Parsnip and Primrose Pie, Primrose and Elderflower Stuffed Pork with a Tangerine Sauce, and Primrose Vinegar. There are lots, lots more, especially in vintage cookbooks.
Who would think you could eat primroses? Folklore says - if you eat them - you'll be able to see the fairies! Wait until one of my daughters hears that! She'll be eating primroses the same day I tell her about it! She just loves fairies!
In addition, we read somewhere that eating primroses, is supposed to be good for your skin - so I can just see a lot of folks "walking down the primrose lane" to get their primrose facial!
18 - Bachelor Buttons a.k.a. Cornflowers
Don't you love that gorgeous blue? Now, wouldn't THAT look lovely on a dinner plate? As much as I drank in the beautiful hue of cornflowers, which I always called bachelor buttons, I never dreamed you could EAT them - but, lo and behold - you can!
For salads, they are great, as their brilliant blue hue contrasts wonderfully with salad greens. Blue is usually a hard color to find, in edibles. Just imagine a "Fourth of July" salad, with greens, white onions, red sweet peppers, and bachelor buttons! What a feast for the eyes THAT would be!
Recipes using Bachelor Buttons are not very easy to find. We "ferreted out" just a few: Violet Meringues with Cornflowers and Blueberry Mousse, Bachelor Buttons Cookies, Cornflower Soup, and Bachelor Buttons Salad.
19 - Jasmine - The Jewel Of The Olive Family
Who could ignore, and not adore the unmistakable smell of jasmine? Once you have experienced it, you will never forget it. The fragrance is intoxicating, to say the least! Well, guess what? You can not only appreciate jasmine for it's incredible aroma, you can also eat the lovely blossoms. Didn't know that, did you? No, neither did I, for most of my adult life.
Be certain that you are eating Jasminum sambac - all other jasmine species are poisonous!
There are recipes galore for Jasmine Rice, which is the actual brand name for a variety of rice, and Jasmine Tea, and Jasmine Water, but there are few to be found for Jasmine blossoms in entrées, spreads, dips, butters, salads, etc. I KNOW they are out there, but they're hiding successfully from me, so any jasmine flower recipes are welcome!
20 - Tulips - Not Native To Holland
Originally, these blooming beauties came from Persia - what we now call Iran. Did you know that? Every time I think of tulips, I remember seeing a vast, lovely field of them growing, when I was traveling through the state of Washington, many years ago. The sight was magnificent to behold.
Little did I realize then, that tulips are an edible flower. You can REALLY dress up a dish with tulips, because they grow in so many different colors, sizes, and shapes. The variegated ones are very "fancy", and can intrigue of color to an otherwise "lackluster" entrée.
There are quite a few recipes for using tulips in "kitchen cuisine", but in some people, they elicit an allergic reaction. Try just a few petals, until you know if you are able to tolerate them. Tulip petals are very effectively used as a "cradle" for nuts or hors d'oeuvres, as toppings, as decorations on cakes, pies, puddings, yogurt, or as a floating garnish for any soup or stew.
What Do 11 - 20 Taste Like?
According to most people's taste buds, these taste:
- Hollyhocks - bland;
- Dandelion - bitter;
- Lavender - perfumey, sweet. with citrus overtones;
- Hibiscus - citrusy to squashy;
- Squash blossoms - like soft, delicate squash;
- Honeysuckle - some say bitter, some sweet, I say sweet;
- Primroses - sweet and bland;
- Bachelor Buttons a.k.a. Cornflowers - spicy, clove-like;
- Jasmine - perfumey and often bitter;
- Tulips - crisp and sweet, like peas.
Edible Flowers 21-30 are: Chrysanthemums, English Daisy, Chives, Lemon Blossoms, Marigolds, Sweet William, Garlic, Snapdragons, Calendula, Chicory.
Featured Floral Food Facts and Fun
21 - Chrysanthemum - The Imperial Flower
The chrysanthemum has been a cultivated flower, for thousands of years - prized for its beauty and valuable properties. Did you know that the Imperial seal of Japan, displays a chrysanthemum? The chrysanthemum flower motif is still to be found just about everywhere you look in Japan - on their currency, on their passports, decorating their furniture, in their restaurants, in their artwork, and on their buildings.
I understand that chrysanthemum flowers are edible, but many people find them to be very bitter. Now that I think about it, I have yet to hear one person actually call them "scrumptious"! Affectionately called "mums", their dried petals are often sprinkled over main dishes, or added to dips, salad dressings, or spice blends.
In the Orient, many different traditional ethnic recipes utilize chrysanthemums, however we found quite a few that were not from the Orient, such as: Chrysanthemum Stir Fry, Roast Chicken Noodle Soup with Chrysanthemum, Lobster with Chrysanthemum, Tofu and Beech Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes with Sautéed Chrysanthemum Petals, Lobster and Crab Chrysanthemum Leaf Salad, Chicken with Chrysanthemum Petal Sauce, Chrysanthemum Soup and Chrysanthemum Ginseng Wolfberry Jelly with Raw Honey.
Well, have I whet your appetite yet?
22 - English Daisy - Prim And Proper
Do you remember Please Don't Eat the Daisies", that hilarious movie from the 1960, starring David Niven and Doris Day?
Well, you can eat the daisies! The variety most often referred to as the edible flower, English Daisy, is this one - Bellis perennis. I have picked so many daisies, and watched them wilt in vases filled with water...when I could have added them to my cuisine!
English Daisies grow prolifically; some people view them as weeds. Personally, I think they are cute; representative of a child's idea of a flower. Whether you use only the petals, or the entire flower - daises make great garnishes, for almost about any dish. Just as it is with cilantro, a.k.a. coriander - opinions on the taste of English Daisies are vastly varied. Some folks simply love them, and some folks cannot stand them! Nevertheless, they have been a constant on the time-honored list of acceptable edibles, for centuries.
23 - Chives - An Old Perennial Favorite
Delicate, savory, lavender-hued chive blossoms are simply wonderful in salads, soups, omelettes, with cheese and as garnishes. We grow our own!
If you have never experienced their marvelous flavor, you might like to check out some of the ideas that we found on: Serious Eats. There are references for using chive blossoms in some very unusual ways, such as - Chive Flower Oil, Gnocchi with Chive Flowers , Chive Blossom Broad Beans, Curried Yam Salad with Chive Flowers, an inherited dish of Stir-Fry Chive Flowers with Pork and Oyster Sauce, and more. How about: Chinese Chive Flowers with Shrimp, or a Kale, Apple and Chive Flower Salad that was featured on Oprah Winfrey's show, or Elegant Omelette Gateau with Chive Flowers, or Chive Blossom Tabbouleh? There are so many ways to eat these delightful blooms - yet most of us only eat the chive leaves. It is time to break with tradition, get creative, and start using the blossoms!
24 - Lemon Blossoms - Better Than A Lemon!
Goodness! Just the smell of lemon blossoms is good enough to eat - if you could eat a smell, that is! When a lemon tree is in bloom, it's fragrance is unmistakable, and unforgettable.
Traditionally, lemon blossoms stand for "discretion". Well, there is nothing discrete about their strong, attractive aroma! People from many different cultures, all over the world, eat lemon blossoms.
To mention a few lemon blossom recipes we found, here are: Lemon Blossom Preserves, Lemon Blossom Sorbet, Lemon Blossom Ice Cream, Lemon Blossom Petal Syrup, Orange and Lemon Blossom Spoon Sweets, Lemon Blossom Yogurt, and of course, Candied Lemon Blossoms.
25 - Marigolds - Not Mary's And Not Gold
Whenever I see a word containing the letters "g-o-l-d", it catches my eye - due to the industry I have been in for many years. It isn't growing flowers, either; that's my husband's expertise. He grows orchids.
As an aspiring gardener, in my twenties, I was delighted to discover that I could successfully grow marigolds! Most of the potted flowers that I brought home, just "up-and-died" when I pulled up in front of our house. They KNEW the fate of those before them, and just "gave up the ghost" - right on the spot.
Not marigolds! They managed to survive anything I did to them - HOW - I shall never know. I understand that marigolds stand for "pain and grief". THAT'S it! Despite the "pain" and "grief" they endured at my hands - they learned to be "survivors"...
They are such an interesting flower - their spicy petals are used extensively in edible flower circles. I found recipes for: Marigold Buns, Venison with Marigolds, Spicy Marigold Rice, Mushroom Salad with "Lemon Gem" Marigolds, Marigold Cheese Soup, Marigold Potato Puffs, Marigold and Dandelion Eggs, Marigold Omelette, Beef and Marigolds, Monkfish Pasta with Marigolds and Anchusa - and a LOT more!
26 - Sweet William - A Dainty Dianthus
Sweet William is actually a common name for a particular variety of Dianthus - another adorable edible flower. It is too "cute" to be called "gorgeous", but it can add a lot of color to your dinner table, and I don't mean as a centerpiece!
Add Sweet William blossoms to brighten up cream soups, to spruce up salads, to add color to salad dressings, and to decorate cakes, and ice cream dishes. They have a way of bringing a smile to your countenance, with their "pepperminty-looking" little "faces".
In order to avoid any bitterness, when eating Sweet William flowers, only the petals should be eaten. The white base in the center, where the petals are attached to the flower, is bitter.
Its botanical name is Dianthus barbatus, and it is commonly grown in almost every area of the North American continent.
27 - Garlic - My Favorite Herb
At a café my late husband and I used to frequent, they called us - "Mr. and Mrs. Garlic" - because I always brought fresh garlic cloves along, to cut up and mix into our food.
In my lifetime, I have consumed hundreds of garlic bulbs, but, until recently - I did not know that the garlic blossoms were edible! I even spent an entire year, researching the properties of garlic, and have touted its health benefits to thousands, without knowing that you could eat the garlic flowers. How I missed this one, is beyond me, because I love garlic!
We found quite a lot of information online about innovative ways to use the flowers of garlic in your cooking. Since I am a garlic enthusiast, I'll add some of my ideas! I have made Garlic Pizza, Garlic Apple Compote, Wilted Garlic Salad, Garlic Chive Cheese Omelettes, and a whole lot more!
Please do not ask for my recipes, because they consist of: a handful of this, a spoonful of that, and a dash of something else. For some unknown reason, others invariably find my recipes difficult to duplicate. I wonder why...
28 - Snapdragons - What A Name!
Snapdragons! I just loved them, from the first time I saw their blooms almost 40 years ago, and what child could resist a flower by that name?
How did snapdragons come by their unique name? Well, supposedly the reason is because the flower resembles the face of a dragon, and it "opens" when you press on it, from its sides. That's the story, anyway. I always thought it was because they snapped at dragons, but - what do I know?
Apparently, most edible flower chefs use snapdragons primarily for garnishes, but we did find a few unusual ideas. For your culinary delight, try some of these ideas we found, from such varied sources as American homemakers to Asian chefs: Snapdragon Ice Cubes, Snapdragons in Jello, Citrus-Spiked Snapdragon Jam, Snapdragon Salad, and Snapdragons in Applesauce with Raisins.
29 - Calendula a.k.a. Pot Marigold
This rather gentle, mild bloom packs an incredible nutritional punch! Calendula has been prized for its medicinal properties by herbalists for thousands of years, all over the globe.
You might wish to start your edible flower garden with this one, as it is reputed to be a "breeze" to grow. On the other hand, it doesn't get the rave reviews some of them get, when it comes to taste. The calendula petals lend themselves well to drying, and have been used extensively to impart a lovely yellow color to herb butters, and dips.
We didn't find a plethora of ideas for cooking with calendula flowers, but here are a few: Golden Corn Bread with Calendula Petals, Calendula Flower Spinach Omelette, Calendula Biscuits, and Calendula Herb Butter. The fresh petals pack a lot of eye appeal, sprinkled over chicken dishes, rice pilaf, or beef stew - and - the dried petals are very dramatic, added to soups, salads, dressings, cakes, and sweet breads. Use your imagination!
30 - Chicory a.k.a. Belgian Endive
One of my favorite coffee substitutes, chicory, is not only lovely - the plant's uses appear to have no end. Even in ancient times, chicory was a prized plant, referred to by the famous Romans - Pliny the Elder, and Horace. Currently, it is valued for its medicinal qualities, planted for animal fodder, and also used in making various aged beverages.
According to the USDA, chicory grows freely in all of the states in the US, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska. It is also grown in many other countries, as is attested to, by the writings of the ancients. Chicory blossoms are usually the color of those in the photo, but they can be found in a variety of hues - from cornflower blue to light lavender, or even white.
The buds are commonly pickled, and the chicory blossoms are used in such varied dishes as: Chicory Flowers with Roquefort dressing, Chicory, Crystallized Chicory Flowers, Pickled Chicory Flowers, and Chicory Flowers Pasta. Last, but by no means least, we found a unique dish that's served at a fine restaurant in the UK, entitled - Rose of Goat Cheese Mousse with Ciabatta, Chicory Petals and Pink Peppercorn Dressing.
What Do 21 - 30 Taste Like?
Consider these "opinions". Generally, these taste:
- Chrysanthemums - mild to bitter;
- English Daisy - some say bitter, some say sweet;
- Chives - like chive shoots; "oniony"
- Lemon blossoms - slightly bitter and citrusy;
- Marigolds - spicy; clove-like, or "grassy"
- Sweet William - similar to clove;
- Garlic - like the bulb, but milder;
- Snapdragons - bland to bitter;
- Calendula - sharp, tangy or peppery;
- Chicory - like endive.
Edible Flowers 31-40 are: Coriander, Bee Balm, Dill, Rosemary, Sunflowers, Basil, Pineapple Sage, Cattails, Gladiolas, Chamomile.
Flowers ARE good enough to eat!
31 - Coriander a.k.a. Cilantro
Personally, I detest cilantro, in any form. My taste buds say that it tastes like soap - Dial soap. What? Did I hear someone ask how I would know what Dial soap tastes like? Oh, I eat it sometimes, when I have nothing else better to do.
No,... that's just not true. My mother liked to administer a dose of it on my tongue, if she even thought I might possibly have sassed her. She was quick with the Dial soap. I cannot imagine what she would have done, if I ever used a bad word - which I never did. She would probably have forced me to eat a whole bar of Fels-Naptha soap, or something worse!
I am seriously considering "divorcing" my oldest son and his dearly beloved wife, because of the rhapsodies they go into, about cilantro! No, couldn't do that - I love them both too much. So much for "inherited" tastes!
For your culinary pleasure, I forced myself to find some recipes using cilantro flowers. I am only doing this, because I know how healthy they are to ingest, and millions of people love cilantro. So, here is what I found: cilantro flowers can be used in any recipe that calls for cilantro leaves. The flowers are used in salsa, guacamolé, salads, soups, omelets, cilantro butter, and just about anything else you can concoct using cilantro leaves.
So, the "gist of it" is, that coriander a.k.a. cilantro, flowers, are edible, even though I don't think they are fit to eat!
32 - Bee Balm - Neither Bee Nor Balm
How does THIS botanical name roll off your tongue - Monarda didyma? Try it - it sounds "weird". What a strange name, for such a beautiful blossom.
Isn't it lovely? Just look at it ! ->
We found a few recipes online, using bee balm blossoms. One of them bears quite an interesting name - Hummingbird Bread. Doesn't that sound, well...interesting?
In addition, we discovered that bee balm blossoms are a marvelous compliment to any seafood dish, but they are also used in fruit salad, in curries, with beef, pork, chicken, duck, rice, and added to, or floated in citrus punch.
The flowers can be frozen successfully, and will keep well for a couple of months, retaining all of their flavor. They make a great addition to any homemade teas, tossed salads, and are a striking garnish for any entrée!
33 - Dill - My Favorite "Weed"
When we lived in Ohio, we used to have quite a bit of dill planted right outside of our back door. My mother used to send me out there, to cut off some dill flowers, called "heads", to put into our food.
She used them to make something she called "placintas". My godmother, who was from Romania, taught her how to do it. Technically, the word "placinta", in Romania, just means "pie". There, they are made with phyllo dough, and filled with a veritable smorgasbord of different fresh ingredients. Typical of my mother, she made her Dill Placintas with eggs, flour, milk, dill blossoms, and Swiss cheese, but no phyllo dough. I don't think she even made any in the last 40 years, but I can still remember how good they were, like it was yesterday!
As a youngster, I cannot remember ever eating any part of the plant, other than the dill flowers. They were SO good! Now that I am grown, I eat dill all of the time, planted by my husband.
Dill heads are commonly used in sauces, with fish, in omelettes, and of course - in homemade dill PICKLES!
34 - Rosemary - For Remembrance
As much rosemary as I eat...you'd think that I would have eaten the blossoms! Did you know that the herb supposedly signifies "remembrance"? Well, if that's true, you'd think I would remember, but, I didn't! Oh, well...better late than never, I guess.
One of the most interesting things I have ever read about rosemary, I saw on The Epicentre. It was, that a vigorously growing rosemary bush is an indication that a woman rules the household. Well, it's a miracle that my husband and I have any rosemary, then - because I don't need to be in charge at home. I have been in charge of my businesses, for years, and it's not all that it's "cracked up" to be!
Want some ideas for using rosemary flowers in your cooking? Well, we found some, that piqued our interest, such as: Lemon Rosemary Chicken, Rosemary Homemade Potato Chips, Fresh Berry and Rosemary Fool, Rosemary Flower Stew, Spinach and Rosemary Soup, and Rice and Rosemary Blossom Salad.
35 - Sunflower - The State Flower of Kansas
Eat sunflower seeds? Of course! Use sunflower oil? I have. Eat the flower of the sunflower? Never? Well, you can!
Now, I must tell you - there are varied opinions on this one. Some sources say the petals are poisonous. Other sources state emphatically - they are not! Our recommendation is to do your own research, but the consensus is, that the petals of the sunflower, eaten in moderation, are healthy and nutritious. As with anything else, eat them in moderation.
Always be cautious, with any edible flowers. Eat them only if you know for a fact, that they are organically grown. Some people add them to potato salad, salad dressings, and mixed green salads, but If you don't wish to eat them - just use them to garnish your entrées, decorate your cakes, and brighten up your meals.
36 - Basil - An International Favorite!
I have a husband, who loves to put basil leaves on his fresh tomatoes, but neither of us knew that the flowers of basil were edible, until recently. Now, the bees knew it, but none of them told me. To honeybees, African Blue Basil blossoms are like catnip to cats. They absolutely love it, and I am growing to love basil blossoms!
Basil flowers come in a variety of colors, and flavors, and are used by chefs, worldwide. They lend themselves beautifully to seafood dishes, soups, and salads, and we located some dishes made with them, that sound delightful. You might like: Cheese and Basil Flower Omelette, Cold Avocado and Carrot Soup with Basil Flowers, or Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Basil Flowers. My hat is off, to these creative chefs!
37 - Pineapple Sage - The Name Says It All...
The pineapple sage blooms with an extraordinarily beautiful red flower. I read online, where one enthusiast said that pineapple sage should be called "Hummingbird Highway". That's because it attracts hummingbirds like it was "hummingbird bait".
Pineapple sage flowers lend themselves deliciously to any recipe that calls for pineapple. From the Sooke Harbor House, in Vancouver, B.C., we found an entrée called Smoked Salmon and House Cured Salmon, with pineapple sage in it, that simply sounds delicious. Online, we also found recipes for: Roast Pork with Sage Flower Sauce, Pineapple Sage Salsa, Barbecue with Pineapple Sage Flowers, Banana Pineapple Sage Smoothie, and Pineapple Sage Flower Jelly, Pineapple Sage Corn Fritters Savory, and Pineapple Sage Pound Cake. What an unusual, delightful, delicate, edible flower, whose brilliant red color, alone - is enough to spruce up any dish!
38 - Cattails a.k.a. Cat-O'-Nine-Tails
I'll bet you don't think of cattails as a flower, but they are! I can remember seeing them, when I lived up north, and hearing that you could eat them, but I have never had the opportunity to try them. Have you?
They adorn the wetlands and marshes of the Northern Hemisphere, and are one blossom that the Native Americans feasted upon. Cattails don't look like flowers, they more closely resemble an overdone hot dog, but they are actually the flower of the plant.
Cattails are best eaten when they are young. We found such dishes as: Cattail Pollen Pancakes, Cattails Pilaf, Cat on the Cob with Garlic Butter, Cattail Casserole, Cattail Flower Pickles, Cattail Barley Soup, Cattail Muffins, and Boiled Cattail Wild Rice.