Edible Flowers and plants
Obviously not all flowers are edible, so be careful to do your research before bringing blooms into the kitchen, but many flowers can be safely consumed, making a great addition to salads, stir-fries and other dishes. Many flowers are already on the menu in homes and restaurants across the world, although most of us don’t even realize that they are in fact flowers. Artichokes, broccoli and capers are among thE flowers that are regularly used in common dishes worldwide. Below is a list of flowers that can be safely consumed. Use common sense and, to be on the safe side, go ahead and get checked for allergies to these plants if you have not already tried them out. But generally these blooms are pretty innocuous, so don’t be afraid to get creative!
This herb is used to flavor many Chinese and Indian dishes. Use the dried flowers in slow-cooking stews to add a light licorice-like flavor.
Did you know the artichoke is actually a flower head? This member of the thistle family tastes great when boiled to soften and eaten with a mix of butter and lemon. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Garlic and soy sauce offer other delicious alternatives as dressings for this bloom.
One of the more common plants on this list, arugula leaves are popular for use in salads and have a great spicy taste. Mix in with other lettuce to add a tanginess to the dish.
Blue Pea Flower:
The flower and pods of the Blue Pea Flower are both edible. The vivid blue color it produces makes it useful as a food dye. It can also be made into a tea which is said to combat stress and depression. In Thailand and Burma, the flowers are battered and fried.
This member of the cabbage family is used heavily in cuisines across the world. The part of the broccoli plant that we usually eat is the head which contains the small, usually unopened, buds of the yellow broccoli flowers.
Again, we generally only eat the heads of this plant, although the leaves are also edible. Unlike broccoli, the small bumps on the florets are not flower buds. Cauliflower contains high levels of Vitamin C, fiber and beneficial phytochemicals and is thought to prevent against certain types of cancer.
This savory salad addition is actually the bud of the caper flower, usually soaked in a brine to give it a salty, vinegary flavor. If the bud is allowed to mature it will flower and eventually produce a “caper berry,” much larger than the bud but pickled and eaten in much the same way. The leaves of the caper bush are also edible, although they are not widely eaten outside of Greece.
Chamomile is widely known as a sleep aid and stress reducer when it is made into a tea or infusion. It has also been used topically as an anti-inflammatory and may even prevent certain types of cancer. Chamomile has been known to interact with certain drugs, so it may be wise to do your research before consuming this plant.
The entire chicory plant is edible, and while all parts including the flowers can be eaten raw, the leaves and roots usually taste better boiled.
The Chive is the smallest edible species of onion and is native to Asia, North America and Europe. Usually only the leaves are cultivated for culinary purposes, and used in much the same way as traditional onions – flavoring soups, salads and stir-fries and known to complement fish and potatoes well. Their attractive purple flower can also be used as a garnish.
White clover blossoms and clover leaves are both edible. They can be eaten raw, although the leaves usually taste better when boiled. The blossoms can be made into a tea. Make sure to eat clover leaves or blossoms either fresh or completely dried, never wilted or moldy, as moldy clover can act as a blood thinner and potentially cause health problems.
Like Chicory, the entire dandelion plant is edible, and is in fact an excellent source of Vitamins A and C. It also has health benefits for the liver and digestive system. Young dandelion leaves are preferred over the mature ones, which can taste bitter unless boiled, steamed or sautéed.
The elder plant has many culinary uses. When cooked, the ripened berries can be made into jams, chutneys, and jellies. The flowers are typically made into syrups and cordials, and can be battered and fried on their own. Both flowers and berries are used to make Elderberry wine.
Let’s not forget the plants of the sea, which are among the most nutritious in the world. Green seaweed (algae) contains high levels of magnesium, calcium and iodine. Seaweed types such as nori as heavily used in Japanese cuisine. Be sure to rinse seaweed in fresh water before eating. It can be eaten raw or used to add a delightful, savory flavor to soups.
Another healthy treasure from the sea, Kelp has been known to provide excellent health benefits. It has large amounts of Vitamin K, folate and lignans, which are believed to lower the risk of developing colon and reproductive cancers. Like other types of seaweed, kelp is also rich in the essential mineral iodine.
The large, dish-shaped leaves of the nasturtium have a spicy, nutty taste that adds some serious zest to salads and can also be included in stir fries. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try the colorful blooms as well. In fact, all parts of this hardy garden favorite are edible. The seeds are often used in place of pepper and can be added to vinegar to make a delicious salad-dressing.. With their culinary versatility and high levels of Vitamin C, nasturtiums are a great choice for anyone looking to experiment with edible plants and flowers.
The entire pansy flower is edible, and while tastes will vary between species of pansy, the taste is universally pretty mild. Flavors range from wintergreen to slightly tangy. They make a very attractive addition to salads and as hors d’oeuvre accents.
All rose varieties are edible, but, as a rule, the more fragrant ones usually taste best. Some people find that pink and yellow roses are the best-tasting blooms. Of course, make sure not to consume roses, or any flowers, that have been sprayed with pesticides or insecticides, or very heavily fertilized. Although not often found in western kitchens, roses are widely used in Indian and Pakistani cooking. Try them in jams, ice cream and milkshakes.
Sunflowers have many different culinary uses. The seeds can be eaten raw or roasted and salted – we already know these to be a popular snack food, usually in their processed form. Sunflower oil is gaining popularity as an alternative to corn or peanut oil and sunflower butter is now a popular peanut butter alternative.
Violet flowers and leaves can be used in endless ways in the kitchen – as an ingredient in salads, stews and stir fries, as stuffing for fish and poultry, and as beautiful decorations on cakes and other desserts. Essence of the violet flower is also a popular flavoring for creams, fruit salads and soufflés. The violet flower can be candied, made into syrup, or used to flavor liqueurs. These beautiful flowers are also medically beneficial, as they contain antioxidants and cyclotides.
Zucchini and Squash Blossoms:
Why wait for these showy flowers to grow into fruits? They are delicious when stuffed and fried or baked with cheese inside the flowers. Use them in soups and stews or simply sauté them with herbs to preserve as much flavor as possible.