You don’t need to plant fruits and vegetables to have an edible garden. Many flowers commonly found in gardens are not only edible, they’re delicious!
Remember, do not eat any flowers that have been treated with pesticides and only eat flowers grown in your garden. Flowers from florists and parks can be hazardous to your health. Do not eat any flower that you are not sure is edible. Only eat the parts of a flower you know are suitable for eating. Do not take any unnecessary health risks. Talk to your doctor before eating flowers if you have allergies or asthma.
The following common garden flowers can make good additions to your meals:
The leaves, petals and stem of a begonia are edible. The petals are often used in salads and have a citrus flavor. The stems are often used as a rhubarb replacement. But be careful only to eat the tuberous begonia petals, the wax begonia has a bitter flavor. Begonias are often used in salads. Try citrus dip for begonia blossoms.
Lavender is more than just a pretty color and a fragrance. Its petals can also be used in your kitchen. Lavender can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Try lavender ice cream.
Roses can be used in cakes, jams, salads and teas. The more fragrant a rose, the better it will taste. Pink and yellow roses tend to taste better but there are a few fragrant red varieties. The petals can range from sweet to spicy to tart. Try rose jam.
The chamomile flowers have a sweet, apple-like taste. Finely chopped or ground petals can make delicious sweet snacks. Chamomile is especially tasty when used in lemon treats. Try lemon chamomile pork chops with lemon.
Violets have a perfumed lettuce-like flavor. Add some violet leaves to spice up your salads or use violet infused vinegar as a dressing. Violet flowers can be crystallized, candied and used to decorate cakes. Avoid eating the stems—they are bitter. Try violet custard.
We all know sunflower seeds are edible, but most people don’t realize that the buds and stalks are too. When steamed, the buds are similar to artichokes. The stalks taste like celery and are delectable in salads. You can also harvest the sunflower seedlings when they are about six inches tall. These are good sautéed in stir fries. Try pickled sunflower buds.
Be sure to remove the flowers from the stem before eating. You can use traditional methods to candy your lilacs, or you can sauté them in fruit juices for some extra pizzazz. You can also use lilac in sauces and jams, but remove the flowers before eating or their flavor will be overwhelming. Try Lilac sorbet.
Dandelion leaves are often served in salads at fancy restaurants. They also make good replacements for collards and chard. They can be served raw or steamed. The flowers are sweet. The young buds taste better than the mature flowers. Dandelions can make good side dishes or additions to main courses. Try dandelion fritters.
Pansies petals have a fresh flavor which some people describe it as wintergreen. Pansies are good in salads, sandwiches and desserts. Pansies are a good source Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Try candied pansies with mint leaves.
To learn more about edible flowers read Denise Schreiber’s book, Eat Your Roses.
Laurel Purves is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is studying Life Sciences Communication and hopes to become a science writer after she graduates. Laurel also plays the mellophone in the University of Wisconsin Marching Band.
Editor: Seychelles Pitton