I have great ambitions of using more edible flowers in food or as garnish, but I confess that I do it far too infrequently. That’s already started to change with a few simple edibles straight from our current garden. When the garden at the new house is planned and planted, I’ll be including lots of edible flowers in both the general landscaping and potager garden. Exciting times ahead!
New garden planning means I will be looking for inspiration, scribbling ideas, trolling through my notes, reviewing my garden journals, and plotting (hahah…sorry…). As an early treat before the official start of our southern summer, I’ve created an edible flower addition to our garden planning sheets.
Growing Flowers for Looks, Eating, or Both?
When trying to select edible flowers for the garden, things often come down to a compromise between form and function. This is especially true if the plants are part of your general landscaping.
Do you want to grow the flowers primarily for eating? Will they need to do double-duty as a productive but pretty landscape feature? For many of us, it’s the latter when we’re talking flowers.
If your favourite edibles don’t suit your landscaping, you can still tuck a few into a less prominent position in your veggie garden, berry patch, or other less visible place. Bonus points as flowering companion plants can help encourage pollinators to visit!
Within general categories of edible (or mostly edible) flowers, different varieties may be more or less suitable to culinary uses. Once you narrow the field on which type of plants you’d like to try growing, do a little background digging (I know…I can’t help myself). Select varieties that suit your local conditions and your culinary goals.
Growing Conditions and Available Space
No matter how much we might like a plant for taste, looks, or other properties, we need the right growing conditions. What plants will grow in your climate? In your garden conditions? How much room do you have for plantings? Do you want annuals or perennials? Many common edibles are easy to grow, including lots of novice gardener and/or family-friendly options.
The better suited your plants are to your growing conditions and planting aspect, the easier it will be for you to grow healthy plants without the need for chemical pest and disease controls. This is particularly helpful for edibles.
Edible Doesn't Necessarily Mean Delicious
Edible doesn’t necessarily mean delicious, or even palatable. Haha! Many edible flowers are far better looking than tasting. Culinary herb flowers often taste familiar like their parent plant. Other flowers can be quite a surprise: sweet, bitter, peppery, minty, and more. Variety is the spice of life!
Admittedly, I’m braver with my garnish than my food, and even if you are only adding flowers or petals as a just-for-looks garnish, it’s best to keep things in contact with food edible for food safety, even if they might not be tasty.
Beware of Contaminants
If you are eating from the garden, you need to be careful about any potential chemicals or other unhealthy substances that might be in your plants. These may come from the original plant or seed source, soil, sprays, treatments, exposure, or other contamination. This is true for all edibles, not just flowers.
Choose fresh healthy-looking flowers that you know to be safe for consumption, free of contaminants. Always wash thoroughly before use.
Know Your Edibles and Consume With Care
Be diligent with labelling and record-keeping to ensure that you can correctly identify the plants before any taste tests, and remember that not all parts of an flower may be suitable to eating. Some require trimming (e.g. petals only) or other preparation before eating.
If you are ever in doubt, don’t eat it! If you aren’t sure whether a flower is edible or not, whether you’ve correctly identified the flower, or which specific parts of the flower are safe to consume, give it a miss. There are many poisonous flowers and plants, or parts thereof. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between similar looking plants and their flowers. Always err on the side of caution.
Edible Flower Recipe Ideas
Freezing edible flowers into ice cubes, topping a cake, garnishing a plate, or sprinkling over a salad are all easy recipe-free ways to use edible flowers. If you’re looking for some stunning ideas (or just feel like drooling over pretty photos), check out the following links or swing by our edible flower inspiration board on Pinterest.
Mains and Savoury Sensations:
- Green Asparagus Goat Cheese and Flowers with Orange Vinaigrette (The Taste Revelation)
- Granola with Lemon Yogurt and Edible Flowers (What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today)
- Fruit & Flower Tower (Marianne Brown at Savory Chicks)
- Floral Goat Cheese with Dill & Cracked Pepper (The Merry Thought)
- Cream Cheese and Chive Sandwiches with Edible Flowers (Buttered Side Up)
- Fresh Herb and Edible Flower Salad with Hibiscus Champagne Vinaigrette (Cali Zone)
- Hibiscus Lemon Curd Tart with Cocoa Crust & Edible Flower Garnish (Vegetarian Ventures)
- Cherry, Rose, and Coconut Ice Cream (Tartlette)
- Flowerfetti Cake with Natural Funfetti Sponge (Twigg Studios)
- Johnny-Jump-Up Angel Food Cake with Sour Cream Glaze (Good Housekeeping)
- Edible Flower Donuts (Studio DIY)
- Flower Power Cake (Green Kitchen Stories)
- Chocolate Bark with Edible Flower Sprinkles (Paper & Stitch)
- Triple Lemon Naked Cake with Edible Flowers (Buttered Side Up)
- Rosey Rocky Road (Ascension Kitchen)
- Rosewater Panna Cotta (Sips and Spoonfuls)
- Spring Bouquet Popsicles (Marla Meridith)
Edible Flower Infographic Idea Sheet
The follow-on infographic idea-sheet was created years ago, before Green in Real Life transitioned from Blogger’s blogspot to our home here at greeninreallife.com. The branding and design is dated, but good ideas are always in fashion, so we’ve keep it with our updated edible flower post: