11 Jul 2006

Eat Your Flowers!

Edible flowers have been eaten way back to ancient times but many people just look at flowers as smelling nice and looking pretty in a vase. They might even be bit more adventurous and scatter a few petals on a salad. Try experimenting with different ways to use edible flowers.

We know the flavour of rose, lavender and violets, but there are many other flowers to try like chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, and marigolds. Whatever flowers you do use you must make sure that they are marked as "Unsprayed/Pesticide-Free" as flowers tend to be sprayed with more pesticides than vegetables and fruit. Better still, grow your own and be sure.

Flowers do not actually add much nutrition to meals....possibly a little vit C and a few minerals, but they do add color, taste and aroma making meals tasty, good to look at and therefore satisfying to eat.

Some examples of flower petals to use in salad are rose, lavender, violet, scented geraniums, pot marigold, nasturtium, and borage. Vinegars can also be flavored with flowers like rose, violet, elderflower, nasturtium, lavender, rosemary, primrose and thyme. Many other things can be made like candied flowers, teas, rose or elderberry wine.

There are excellent books on the subject :
The Edible Flower Garden by Rosalind Creasy
Edible Flowers: Desserts & Drinks by Cathy Wilkinson Barash
Edible Flowers by Kathy Brown
All available at


Recipes of the Day


It has a wonderful fragrance and taste that is great in Turkish Delight and pastries

1 cup fresh rose petals
1/2 cup water
Bring water to a boil. Pour over rose petals. Stand for 15 minutes. Drain and bottle. Store in fridge.

Rosewater is astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic so also excellent for your skin.

Vegan Crystallized-Flowers
contributed by Lisa T. Bennett (from Cake Decorating by Judy Kelsey, with modifications suggested by Martha Stewart, who uses egg whites to do this)

Here's the vegan method for candying flowers and mint leaves. Notice that it takes several days from start to finish (but only a little bit of YOUR time/attention).

25 g/ 1 oz gum arabic crystals (or powder)
60 ml/4 tbsp rosewater
superfine sugar (castor sugar)
fresh edible (unsprayed) flowers** or leaves
wax or silicone paper
small paintbrush
small screwtop jar

Place the gum arabic and the rosewater in a screwtop jar and leave for two or three days for the gum arabic to dissolve. When the crystals have dissolved, the mixture will look like thin honey (viscous and pale gold).
Prepare a shallow bowl filled with superfine sugar (which is much finer than regular granulated sugar and looks prettier on the flowers).
Cover a tray with waxed paper or silicone paper.
Hold a flower (or leaf) by its stem and very carefully paint it with the gum arabic mixture. Don't coat it too heavily. Paint both sides.
Hold the wet flower over the bowl of sugar and (using a teaspoon) sprinkle it evenly with sugar. Turn it over and do the back side, too.
Shake off the excess sugar (tap your hand on the side of the bowl) and then place the coated flower on the wax- or silicone-paper-covered tray.
Leave to dry for 3-4 days. I leave mine in my gas oven. With the pilot light's warmth, they are usually ready in a couple of days. BE
CAREFUL if you do this. I foolishly pre-heated my oven without thinking and blackened a batch of lovely pansies and johnny-jump-ups. :-( Now I tape a sign on the oven control to remind me that I have "FLOWERS IN OVEN!"
After the flowers or leaves are dry, clip off their stems and place them in an airtight container. I use a shallow Rubbermaid container and put layers of waxed paper in between the layers of flowers.
Stored away from light and heat, these are supposed to stay usable and retain their color for a year. I have only kept them for a couple of months, so I can't say from experience. They are VERY FRAGILE, however, so be careful not to drop them or the container they are stored in.

These look absolutely wonderful on a frosted cake, but they can be served as little (fat-free) treats on their own with a nice cup of tea or coffee. Depending on what type of flower you use, they can either taste like a very exotic perfume, or like little sugar candies. Mint leaves are fantastic this way!!

**Some edible flowers suitable for candying include pansies, johnny-jump-ups (viola tricolor), violets, primroses, and dianthus. Many people candy rose petals, too, but I haven't had any luck with these looking good.

Other edible flowers for other purposes (salads, etc) are daylilles
(buds, flowers, and tubers), marigold (calendula officinalis only!),
nasturiums, sunflowers, and zucchini flowers.



Erin said...

Nasturtiums are delicious! I have a bunch that I'm adding to a salad for dinner tonight.

Marion said...

I love lavender good sprinkled over a Greek Salad.