From snapdragon to stock, a sprinkling of edible flowers will transform your next meal from every day to gourmet. Here are 11 of our favourite flowers to feast on.
Create a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds with daisies. The subtle-tasting petals make a lovely garnish for savoury dishes, like sandwiches, soups and salads. For a treat that’s sure to impress, freeze daisy flowers in ice cubes or float them in drinks.
You’re probably familiar with chamomile as a soothing herbal tea. But did you know the aromatic, apple-flavoured, daisy-like flowers also make a delightful addition to cakes, biscuits, bread and puddings. Or sprinkle onto salads and soups and take your next meal from drab to fab.
From water chestnut to spicy apple and even carrot, the flavour of dahlia can vary depending on the soil and conditions in which it’s grown. But one thing’s for sure: a dahlia-enhanced dish makes for an Insta-worthy meal. This relative of the sunflower makes a pretty addition to salads. You can also float the flowers in a drink or use them to decorate your favourite dessert.
Dress up your next dish with edible dianthus. Also known as pinks or carnations, dianthus have a clove-like taste. The versatile blooms can be steeped in wine, sugar or used to embellish desserts. Dianthus will also add zest to ice-cream, sorbet, fruit salad, even seafood and stir-fries. For a colourful garnish, scatter the petals in drinks or on salad or soup.
A serve of lavender can flip a run-of-the-mill meal into a five-star feast. Lavender has a fragrant flavour and an almost endless list of culinary uses including biscuits, cakes, custard, ice-cream, jam, jelly, scones, shortbread, sorbet… the list goes on, and like rosemary, lavender is also great with lamb.
Add colour to your cooking with marigold flowers. Their peppery, saffron-like flavour (marigold is known as poor man’s saffron) and golden hue adds oomph and vibrancy to stews, stir-fries, rice, salad, soup, pasta, scrambled eggs and omelettes.
Nasturtium flowers have a sweet yet peppery flavour, not unlike radishes, and their bright warm colours are sure to give your next meal pizzazz. Like zucchini flowers, nasturtium can be stuffed then steamed or fried. When mixed with chives, the blossoms blend beautifully into potato salad.
Viola tricolor var. hortensis
Forget the cherry. Top your next dish with pansies instead. Pansies are some of the most colourful and versatile edible flowers around. They have a mild, sweet, grassy flavour and can be used as a garnish for salads, soups and hors d’oeuvres, or crystallise the flowers for a magnificent dessert decoration.
Give your next culinary creation flower power with snapdragon. The flavour is reminiscent of chicory, which makes snapdragons suitable for savoury offerings such as salads and canapés. Stuff with cream cheese or guacamole for a one-of-a-kind hors d’oeuvre. Their ability to hold onto a glass also makes them ideal for cocktails.
The bright colours and sweet scent of stock are sure to make your next meal blooming beautiful. Stock has a wonderful sweet, peppery taste, much like a radish, which makes it perfect for a salad or as a garnish. The pretty petals can also be crystallised to give your next sweet creation wow factor.
Violas are a floral foodie favourite. The dainty flowers have a subtle fragrance and a mild violet flavour, which means they can accompany both sweet and savoury dishes. Scatter a handful of violas on top of a salad, freeze in ice cubes or crystallise for your next dessert.
Picking and storing edible flowers
Pick edible flowers in the late afternoon or early evening, or in the morning after the dew has dried. Store flowers in a sealed plastic container, lined with paper towels, in your fridge’s crisper section.
Edible flower growing tips
Edible flowers don’t need any special care. They just need lots of sunshine and well-draining soil (although nasturtiums and violas will cope with part-sun). Just make sure when growing these flowers to avoid non-organic sprays.
A word of caution
It’s important to only use edible flowers that are specifically grown for consumption. You can find all of the above flowers in edible form at your local Flower Power.
Pictured: viola and chamomile.