Please eat the flowers: how to grow a bouquet you can eat!
Looking for ways to encourage your family to try more greens? Say it with flowers: edible flowers are versatile, taste great and are fun to eat!
Nasturtiums, pansies, violets, marigolds—what do all these flowers have in common? They taste delicious! Edible flowers go in all kinds of savory and sweet recipes, and they’re easy to grow at home.
But wait, what do flowers taste like? While you might be picturing something quite perfumey or, well, floral, the truth is that there’s a huge variety of edible flowers to cook with, and they all bring different elements to a dish. Some are so peppery that they’re perfect for pestos, fritters, or omelets, while other flowers add a light fruity aroma to desserts. One thing is for sure: edible flowers are a great way to get kids interested in trying out new greens.
The rules for cooking with edible flowers are simple. First, make sure that the flower you’re working with is actually edible (this handy list of 50 edible flowers from West Coast Seeds is a great place to start your research!) Some flowers and plant parts are poisonous, so always make sure you’ve double-checked your flower ID before you chow down. The second important rule is to avoid flowers that have had pesticides sprayed on them. The easiest way to do this is just to grow your own!
To grow your own edible garden, check out our tutorial on getting a kitchen garden started. Some plants—like arugula or dandelion—can be started outdoors as late as mid-August and you’ll have flowers to enjoy before the November frost. Other plants, like pansies or nasturtiums, can be grown indoors any time of year under lights, or started outdoors in spring after the last frost has passed. No matter where you grow your flowers, always gently shake your flowers out and then wash them in water before using them in a meal (after all, bugs like flowers too!).
Edible flowers go in all kinds of savory and sweet recipes, both as a garnish and a main ingredient! For savory options, enjoy nasturtiums in a summer salad, basil and arugula flowers in pesto, or fried dandelions. Invite your kids to snip marigold flowers into eggs, or over avocado toast. And even young children can gently shred the leaves and flowers of mint, chamomile or lemon balm into tea or water. Flowers also make desserts glamourous—try sugared violets on shortbread cookies or cake—or just scatter a few pansy petals over waffles to add a really magical touch to breakfast. Or you can make a unique twist on oatmeal cookies with this dandelion flower variation!