Flowers are usually used for garnishing, as they make the dish look very attractive. But cooking with flowers is also possible. It is not an uncommon or new idea. You just need to know which are the edible flowers. Cooking with poisonous flowers can lead to serious health complications. Similarly, if you have pollen allergy, use of edible flowers may cause mild to serious side effects. Moreover, you should also know which part of the flower is used for cooking. Sometimes, only petals are edible and the rest of the flower is poisonous.
List of Common Edible Flowers
Angelica: It goes well with fish. The tree is covered with globes of tiny yellow or white flowers in mid or late summer. The stems in the candied form are used to garnish cakes and desserts. Those with skin allergy should check before use.
Anise Hyssop: It is sweet, flavored like anise or licorice.
Apple: I am sure you would love the floral flavor of the dish to which apple flowers are added. These flowers should be consumed in limited quantity only as they may contain cyanide precursors.
Basil: Various varieties (more than 60) of basil flowers are known for the various flavors they offer. Medicinal benefits of basil are well-known.
Chrysanthemum: It has slightly bitter taste and pungent odor but tea prepared with chrysanthemum offers several health benefits.
Chamomile: Use of chamomile flowers in chamomile tea helps you get rid of headache, fatigue, stomach problems, etc.
Lavender: Not only the loveliness of lavender but also the medicinal properties of lavender tea are well-known.
Chicory: Pickled chicory buds taste great!
Lemon: Lemon flowers can be used to make citrus waters. If you are using them for edible garnishing, you should not lay too many flowers on the dish.
Garlic Chives: They come in the form of a bunch of small white flowers. Garlic chives are popular in Asian cuisine.
Jasmine: Jasmine offers a very delicate sweet flavor to jasmine tea which is known for the health benefits it offers.
Fennel: Yellow flowers of fennel taste sweet and offer licorice flavor.
Dandelion: Along with roots and leaves of dandelion, you can use flowers to make the tea which has several medicinal properties.
Hibiscus: Hibiscus is a commonly available flower. Dried or fresh hibiscus flowers are used to make hibiscus tea.
Marigold: These flowers are also common. They have somewhat bitter or spicy taste.
Mint: When mint covers the ground, spikes of white or pinkish flowers appear in between the bright green leaves. Flowers do carry the medicinal properties of mint.
Rose: Rose, the king of all flowers, is widely used in various desserts. It offers an exceptional taste and flavor to the dish. Dried rose flowers are also used commonly.
Rosemary: Rosemary produces sweet and savory, white, pink, purple or blue flowers along with fragrant evergreen leaves.
Banana (yucca): Only the petals can be eaten. Other parts can be poisonous.
Thyme: The flowers add a nice, light, lemon-like scent to the dish.
Sunflower: Only the petals are eaten. The bitterness of the petals can be reduced by steaming them lightly.
Okra: Like Squash blossoms, okra comes with sweet, nectar-like flavor. You may take a quick look at the following list that contains names of some more edible flowers.
List of Other Edible Flowers
- Bachelor Buttons
- Bee Balm
- Cilantro / Coriander
- English Daisy
- Iceland Poppy
- Johnny Jump Up
- Orange Blossom
- Pineapple Sage
- Red Clover
- Rose of Sharon
- Runner Bean
- Scented Geranium
- Society Garlic
- Squash Blossom
- Sweet Marigold
- Sweet William
- Tuberous Begonia
- Winter Savory
How to Choose Edible Flowers
Edible flowers are generally used to make teas, candies, salads, etc. When added to a dish, they offer a nice flavor. You can add them to jams, pickles, syrups, vinegar, cakes, custards, ice-creams, etc. Flowers of herbs or vegetables are generally included in the edible flowers list but there are exceptions also. Flowers of tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers, asparagus, etc., are not eaten. Some lilies, daffodils, azalea, oleander, rhododendron, etc., are poisonous. Remember, only the petals of composite flowers like sunflower or safflower are edible. Pollen of these flowers are extremely allergenic. Use of these flowers may result in serious reactions in sensitive individuals.
Those who have asthma, ragweed, and hay fever should stay away from composite flowers. People with such diseases may suffer from serious health problems with consumption of other flowers as well. So one should take necessary precautions while using edible flowers. If you have any doubts, you should consult a person who knows everything about the flowers and their culinary uses. The above list of edible flowers is not complete and there are many more flowers which can be used for cooking.
Disclaimer: This Gardenerdy article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.