image by Marci Degman
Many people avoid eating edible flowers because they are afraid to try them or fear they may be poisonous. There are a number of safe edible flowers, but it is important to do your research and know which ones are edible. Grow the flowers yourself or get them from a reliable source to make sure they are organic. Do not collect edible flowers in the wild; they may be a protected species. Wildflowers can be grown from seed in the home garden. Many gardeners grow annual culinary flowers along with herbs and vegetables. Edible perennial flowers can be grown as ornamental plants in the landscape and then harvested as needed. Some common edible flowers are roses, violet, bee balm, nasturtium, borage, sage and daylily.
Gathering Cut Flowers
Cut your flowers. It is best to harvest them the same day you plan to use them. They can be cut any time the flowers begin to mature. Flowers that are not fully open will retain their petals longer. Use only flowers grown without herbicides or pesticides. Choose the best flowers and inspect them for dirt or insects. Do not wash them; this will bruise the petals.
Place the flowers directly in water. Have a water vessel with you in the garden. The stems can be left long enough to fit into a vase until they are needed. Some flowers, like violets, do not have a strong stem and cannot be placed in a vase. Cut this type of flower just below the flower head. Place them on a wet paper towel in an open plastic container and store them in the refrigerator. Some flowers will remain fresh for several days while others should be cut and used the same day. Keeping them moist and cool will extend them for the longest possible time.
Prepare the flowers for use. Those with longer stems will need to be trimmed close to the flower head. Before using them, place the flowers on a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture. You will not want wet flowers if you are decorating a frosted cake. Moisture is less of a problem for flowers used in salads or garnishes. They can just be tossed right in with the other vegetables. Large flowers such as daylily can be stuffed with egg or chicken salad and kept refrigerated until they are served.