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How to Select and Use Edible Flowers in Cooking and Baking

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Flowers in a garden salad

Flowers in a garden salad

Flowers Aren't Just for Making Honey

Eat flowers? You might think this sounds a bit odd, but have you ever enjoyed one of these?

  • Freshly picked zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and quickly fried in a tempura-like coating. The cheese within is melting and creamy; the tempura coating, delicately crisp and paper thin.
  • Herbs de Provence pan-roasted chicken with crisp skin and succulent meat, flavored with marjoram, savory, fennel, and lavender blossoms.
  • Lebanese shawarma meatballs, spiced and fragrant with ginger, cardamon, and citrusy sumac.
  • Floral-scented chamomile latte poured into a bone china cup. The brew is sweetened with vanilla; the soothing aromas delivering a feeling of calm and relaxation.
  • Melt-in-the-mouth buttery shortbread cookies flecked with lemon zest and lavender blossoms and served with a scoop of saffron and rose water custard ice cream.

All of these are made with the blossoms of flowers. But that's just the beginning. Let's look at a list of the flowers that you can eat, how to gather then, and how to use them in cooking and baking.

Edible Flowers (A Sampling, Not a Comprehensive List)

Name of FlowerWhich Part(s) to UseTaste

Angelica

petals

hints of anise and carrot

Bachelor's button

petals (remove green parts)

grassy

Bee balm

petals

sweet

Begonia, tuberous

leaves, petals and stems

citrus

Begonia, wax

leaves and petals

slightly bitter

Borage

leaves and petals

cucumber

Calendula

petals

spicy, peppery

Carnation

petals

spicy

Chives

petals and stems

onion

Chrysanthemum

blanched blossoms

cauliflower

Clover

raw

snap peas

Cornflower (see Bachelor's button)

 

 

Dandelion

young flowers or buds, raw or steamed or young leaves

sweet, honey-like

Daylilies

blossom (eat in moderation)

sweet lettuce, melon

Dianthus (see carnation)

 

 

Fuschia

blooms and berries

citrus

Impatiens

blossom

sweet

Lavender

petals

floral

Lilac

blossom

fragrant, lemony

Marigold (see calendula)

 

 

Pansies

petals

sweet, grassy

Nasturtium

blossoms, leaves

peppery

Rose

petals (remove white part)

strawberries, green apples (dark varieties have more flavor)

Scented geraniums

petals

flavor corresponds to scent

Violets

flowers and leaves

sweet, floral

How to Safely Collect Flowers

  • Not all flowers are edible! In fact, some can make you extremely ill (for example, foxglove). Check your lists and be absolutely certain of the identity.
  • Never collect flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. When in doubt, don't collect.
  • Never collect flowers from the roadside.
  • Follow carefully the guidelines on which part(s) of the plant to use.
  • Use flowers sparingly, They should be an entertaining garnish, not the main star of the show.
Goat cheese-stuffed fried zucchini blossoms

Goat cheese-stuffed fried zucchini blossoms

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Lindsay admits that creating these little bites takes a pinch of patience and a tad of tenacity. Stuffing a zucchini blossom is not as easy as, let's say, plopping carnitas into a taco shell. But, they so so very rewarding.

First, remove the stamen (that's the long stalk in the middle). Then grab your piping bag. Yes, you really need one of those. It will make life so much easier. (OK, in a pinch you can substitute a heavy-duty ziplock plastic bag, filled, closed, and one bottom corner snipped a little to allow the filling to squirt out). Next twist the tops of the blossoms a little so the filling doesn't escape. Then, batter and fry your goat cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms.

Roasted herbs de Provence chicken

Roasted herbs de Provence chicken

Roasted Herbs de Provence Chicken

I think that learning how to roast a chicken is one of the first things we learn how to do as a "grown-up" cook. It's actually pretty easy, it's economical, it smells amazing, and it's so rewarding. And, if you are having guests, despite all those easy things it delivers a wow factor, every time.

Do you want to take your basic roast chicken to the next level, to a double-wow? Use herbs de Provence as your dry rub seasoning. That's what Caroline does with her roasted herbs de Provence chicken.

Do you need a recipe for herbs de Provence? Maybe you can't find it at your grocery store. I'll bet you can find these seasonings, or perhaps you already have them in your pantry. Here is a recipe from The Spruce Eats that will make a cup of the seasoning for you. Enough to use again, and again, and again. You will love it.

Shawarma spiced meatballs

Shawarma spiced meatballs

Shawarma Spiced Meatballs

A bounteous assembly of herbs and spices are used to make these shawarma spiced meatballs. Please don't allow that list of ingredients dissuade you from making these amazing meatballs. They absolutely shout "Mediterranean" and would make an amazing meal with a side of naan, couscous, rice, or quinoa.

Chamomile tea latte

Chamomile tea latte

Chamomile Tea Latte

Jee is a certified tea sommelier and creates the most lovely hot beverages. Her chamomile tea latte is so warm and cozy. If I had a cold I'd certainly want to wrap my hands around a large mug of this. But, don't wait until you are sick. It's so creamy and comforting, you deserve this now.

Read More From Delishably

Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • Garnish small rosemary sprigs
  • Special equipment parchment paper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, lavender, and zest. In a separate bowl mix together butter, honey, and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture; mix until dough resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Gather dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it just comes together, about 8 times. Halve dough and form each half into a 5-inch disk. Roll out 1 disk (keep remaining dough at room temperature) between 2 sheets of parchment into a 9-inch round (trim as necessary).
  4. Remove top sheet of parchment and transfer dough on bottom sheet of parchment to a baking sheet. Score dough into 8 wedges by pricking dotted lines with a fork, then mark edges decoratively. Arrange rosemary sprigs (if using) decoratively on top of dough, pressing lightly to help adhere, and sprinkle dough with 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
  5. Repeat with 2nd round of dough.
  6. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Slide shortbread on parchment to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a cutting board and cut along score marks with a large heavy knife.
Green salad with edible flowers

Green salad with edible flowers

Green Salad With Edible Flowers

This simple green salad would be a lovely start to a garden party or tea. Tender baby spinach is adorned with delicate violets or pansies and dressed with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, Dijon, olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Nasturtium, beetroot, and walnut salad

Nasturtium, beetroot, and walnut salad

Nasturtium Beetroot Salad

Here's another salad to inspire you.The colors of this nasturtium-beetroot salad are striking—that alone should entice you to make this. But it's also vegan and gluten-free. If you choose your blossoms carefully you should be able to create an amazing display of color. Nasturtiums range in hue from cream to yellow to orange to a deep mahogany.

Frozen wine cubes with edible flowers

Frozen wine cubes with edible flowers

Frozen Wine Cubes With Edible Flowers

Are you hosting a Summer garden party and want to keep the Pinot chilled without diluting it with ice? Float a few of these blossom-studded ice cubes in each glass. They're so pretty you will be making up excuses to use them.

Chive blossom butter

Chive blossom butter

Chive Blossom Butter

Chives are cousins to shallots, onions, and garlic. This chive butter is a lovely substitute for simple garlic butter. The flavor is not as assertive as garlic—it's a more delicate taste—but what it lacks in boldness it makes up for in the pretty display it can make on your party table.

Cream cheese and chive sandwiches with edible flowers

Cream cheese and chive sandwiches with edible flowers

Cream Cheese and Chive Sandwiches With Edible Flowers

These open-face cream cheese and chive sandwiches are almost too pretty to eat. There are only 5 ingredients, so use the best quality you can find. Goat cheese cream cheese is worth looking for, get your hands on a really good-quality loaf of French bread, and select the prettiest flowers and herb leaves.

Herb and Edible Flower Pasta

Aimee's edible flower pasta is made by laminating fresh herb leaves and edible flowers between two thin layers of fresh, homemade pasta. Yes, it is a labor of love but it is not difficult. Set aside a leisurely weekend afternoon to do this.

Flower pasta is not the place for your rich mushroom bechamel or meaty ragu. You don't want to cover this pasta with a thick sauce. A drizzle of browned butter or grassy extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt is all you will want to adorn these pictures on a plate.

Deviled egg baskets with edible flowers

Deviled egg baskets with edible flowers

Deviled Egg Baskets With Edible Flowers

Just in time for Easter, these deviled eggs are garnished with tiny flowers with a chive sprout for the handle. Chive blossoms are in season as are violas, lilacs, and other herb flowers—all of which can be used to decorate these "baskets."

Sources

© 2020 Linda Lum

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