Eating flowers is like eating the finest part of a plant. The flower is connected with a special power, and it is beautiful to look at.
Written by Nanna Stærmose
Edited by Louise Curly
Photo: Aiah Noack, Naturplanteskolen
Jazz up savoury dishes, baking, preserves and drinks with the addition of edible flowers, which will add colour and flavour. It’s important to know which flowers are edible and which ones aren’t (some can be poisonous) and to hone your flower identification skills. If in doubt, don’t eat it!
Edible flowers are best used straight away. If this isn’t possible, place them on sheets of moist kitchen roll and pop them in sealed plastic containers in the fridge. They can be stored like this for a few days.
Make sure you harvest flowers from plants that haven’t been sprayed with chemicals, so plants bought from the garden centre should be avoided, unless you know the grower doesn’t use pesticides and fungicides. But a rose that’s been growing in your garden for several years will be fine, as any chemical residue is likely to have disappeared by then.
Fortunately, many edible flowers are easy to grow from seed, and many mail order nurseries and garden centres now stock edible flower seeds.
Different flavours and colours
The taste of edible flowers varies: some are spicy, some onion-flavoured, there are bitter-tasting ones and citrus-flavoured blooms. Some don’t have a distinct flavour but they look very pretty and can be used to decorate cakes or added to ice cubes for summer drinks.
Here are some edible flowers to try:
Chives – the purple flowers have a strong onion flavour and look pretty scattered over a salad or stirred into cottage cheese. You can also add them to omelettes.
Alpine pinks (Dianthus) – these have a clove-like flavour and can be used to decorate cakes, biscuits and puddings.
This is Aiah Noack’s favourite flower salad. It consists of a green salad as a base and flowers.
Nasturtiums – one of the best edible blooms, with a fabulous peppery kick. Tear the petals up into salads, garnish risottos and add them to fishcakes.
Pot marigolds (Calendula) – the bright orange petals have a spicy flavour and look lovely mixed with salad leaves.
Dill and Fennel – these tiny yellow flowers will add a Scandinavian flavour to food, the aniseed flavour combining well with eggs and fish dishes.
Sweet violets (Viola odorata) – these dainty blooms are particularly popular in France where they’re used to decorate cakes and to make sweets.
Rose petals – these can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes.
Borage – the white or blue flowers have a cucumber flavour and can be added to salads or frozen in ice cubes and popped into summer cocktails.
About Aiah Nack
She is a trained horticulturist and Danish garden designer.
She owns a nursery with the purpose of sharing knowledge, ideas and expertise in regard to an edible garden. She also does workshops, classes and tours, and she has a shop where you can buy edible seeds.
Om Nanna Stærmose
Nanna is the Danish writer of many of the articles in the Greenhouse Forum.
Nanna visits happy greenhouse owners and tells their stories about basic cultivation, but also those stories that are more oblique.