How to Choose Edible Flowers

Overview

Would you be surprised to find out that many vegetables are really edible flowers? That's exactly what broccoli, artichokes, and cauliflower are--immature flower heads. Of course that's not what is usually meant by the term edible flowers. Edible flowers--like roses, pansies, and nasturtiums--can be used as seasoning, garnishes, or as ingredients in their own right. Before growing your own edible flowers, find out which ones you like and don't like.

Step 1

Select flowers at the grocery store that are clearly marked edible. Find them in the produce aisles. Flowers from the florist department of the store may in fact be edible but have been sprayed with insecticides during the growing season, rendering them poisonous. In the produce department most edible flowers are sold with just the blossoms. Look for flowers that are fresh and that don't have any signs of wilting, decay or mold. You will most likely find edible flowers in gourmet grocery stores.

Step 2

Order edible flowers online through specialty markets. Sometimes your regular grocer will special order as well. You can order edible flowers as dried flowers. They're not as pretty as fresh but for some recipes work just as well. Dried flowers are similar to dried herbs.

Step 3

Decide how you're going to use the flowers. Flowers, like vegetables and fruits, have different tastes. A flower with a strong herbaceous flavor, such as marigolds, won't work in a dessert but would work in a salad. Some flowers are best eaten raw and don't work in a cooked dish. You can use flowers as garnishes for cocktails, adding both a bright splash of color and taste. Freeze small flowers like pansies or miniature roses in individual ice cubes. Freeze large flowers in a bowl of water. Use the ice to chill a punch served in a punch bowl.

Step 4

Experiment with different flowers if you're unfamiliar with them. Of course that means that you may waste a few blossoms here and there. Nibble a petal or two to get the flavor and texture of the flower. Blanch it in boiling water to see if it retains its shape or turns into a slimy mess. Knowing which flowers you like makes it easier to select the flowers you want to grow.

Step 5

Grow your own edible flowers. Select a variety of easy-to-grow edible flowers, such as those already mentioned, plus geraniums, snapdragons, sunflowers and carnations. Start the flowers yourself from seed, or buy organically grown plants. If you buy the plants from a nursery, remove all flowers and buds and wait for the flowers to re-bloom before eating.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use flowers from your garden or florist thinking you can rinse them off to get rid of any pesticides.

Things You'll Need

  • Selection of edible flowers

References

  • How to Grow Edible Flowers
  • "Edible Flowers: From garden to kitchen;" Kathy Brown; 2008

Who Can Help

  • Where to Buy Edible Flowers Online
Keywords: choose edible flowers, grow edible flowers, how to use edible flowers

About this Author

Katie Rosehill's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in personal finance, weddings and gardening.