How to Cook Edible Flowers

A cake decorated with sugar-crystallized flowers image by Kimberly Vardeman\commons.wikipedia.org

Overview

Edible flowers bring beauty and a variety of flavors to your table. People have been including flowers in recipes for hundreds of years, both for their reputed health benefits and their flavors. Fresh flowers like nasturtiums and violets make an interesting garnish on salads or a delicate decoration for desserts. The blossoms from any type of squash plant are quite versatile and can be fried, boiled, or stuffed. Even dandelions can be sautéed, pickled, or made into wine. Try these suggestions for bringing flowers from the vase to the plate.

Flowers to Eat Raw

Step 1

Garnish your plates and salads with nasturtiums. Nasturtiums are red, yellow, or orange. They have a sweet peppery taste earlier in the season, and they become spicy and pungent as the plant's blooming period starts to finish.

Step 2

Freeze violets and borage flowers into ice cubes for summer drinks. Violets and borage have a honey-like nectar flavor, and their light purple petals make a pretty accent to a glass of lemonade. Put one or two blossoms into each square of an ice tray full of water and freeze them into the cubes.

Step 3

Sprinkle carnation petals over a cake for an edible decoration. Carnations come in a variety of colors, or you can dye cut carnations by placing them in a glass of water with a few drops of food coloring. The petals have a slightly sweet, spicy flavor that is similar to their scent.

Flowers to Cook

Step 1

Try dandelions cooked with sausage and potatoes. Use flowers that have not yet opened, as they become more bitter when they bloom. Put a layer of dandelion greens and flowers in the bottom of a medium cooking pot. Add a layer of sliced Italian sausage, another layer of flowers, and a layer of sliced potatoes. Sprinkle the rice over the potatoes, cover with water, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Step 2

Steam sunflowers for an inexpensive alternative to artichokes. Use the flowers when they're still tightly closed, and steam them for 10 to 15 minutes until they're tender.

Step 3

Use squash blossoms to make a refreshing soup for a starter course. Sauté garlic and onions in butter for 5 minutes then simmer in chicken broth for 10 to 12 minutes. Add male squash blossoms with the stamens snipped out and simmer 5 minutes more. Puree the soup in a blender until it's smooth, strain it back into the pan, add milk, and heat it. Top it with cheese and serve it hot.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some common garden flowers like hyacinth, cyclamen, and impatiens are poisonous. Never eat a flower or plant without first learning about it, and teach your children to do the same. Eat only flowers that haven't been treated with pesticides or herbicides, and never eat flowers harvested from a roadside. They are too delicate to thoroughly clean off poisonous materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Nasturtiums
  • Violets
  • Borage flowers
  • Ice tray
  • Freezer
  • Carnations
  • Glass of water
  • Food coloring
  • Medium soup pot
  • 1 gallon dandelion buds and chopped dandelion greens
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 peeled and sliced potato
  • ½ cup rice
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sunflowers
  • Steaming pan
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups whole squash blossoms
  • Food processor
  • Strainer
  • 1 cup milk

References

  • Dandelion Recipes
  • Squash Blossom Recipes
  • Plants that Poison

Who Can Help

  • Edible Flowers Glossary
  • About Edible Flowers
Keywords: edible flowers, cook with edible flowers, edible flower recipes

About this Author

Sarah Metzker Erdemir is an expat writer and ESL teacher living in Istanbul since 2002. A fiction writer for more than 25 years, she began freelance writing and editing in 2000. Ms. Metzker Erdemir holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Romance languages and linguistics as well as a TESOL Master of Arts degree. She has written articles for eHow, Garden Guides, and ConnectEd.

Photo by: Kimberly Vardeman\commons.wikipedia.org