Not just a treat for the eye - quite a lot of flowers are edible and can be used in salads and as cake and beverage decorations. They can also be crystalised and used later on as edible treats. The following list is not exhaustive but will give you food for thought!
Apple/ Crab Apple
Apple blossoms have a slightly floral taste. Good in a fruit punch.
Flowers can be used in salads or in cocktails. Petals have a cucumber taste.
Dianthus have a spicy/clove-like taste - ideal for cakes.
Chive flowers have a mild onion flavour - fantastic colour.
The flowers can be used like the leaves.
Have a sweet/spicy clove flavour. Sprinkle on cakes or salads.
Squash flowers have a slightly sweet taste. These can be stuffed with cheese or used in salads.
Add flowers to fish dishes, omelettes. Add whole flowers to pickled gherkins, cucumbers or beetroots for a milder flavour than dill seed.
The mild anise flavour combines well with fish, meat and vegetables.
Good as a cake decoration.
Mild, slightly sweet flavour, perfect for dessert garnishes.
Make lavender sugar and add to biscuits, sorbets, jams or jellies. Add flowers to vegetable stock and create a tasty sauce for duck, chicken or lamb dishes.
The flowers and leaves have a citrus taste - ideal for adding to salads, sandwiches, seafood dishes or hot desserts.
Has a sweet, spicy flavour and will enhance salads, jellies and stuffings, rice and pasta dishes. Fresh or dried leaves can be used to make bergamot tea.
The fresh leaves and flowers have a peppery flavour. The flowers will add a spicy touch to salads and the green seeds can be chopped and used with parsley as a garnish or made into capers.
The seeds have a strong aroma and spicy taste, they can be used as a condiment or spice to flavour cakes, breads and curries.
Add to tomato dishes, pizza and when making bread. Flowers can also be added to butter for flavour.
Pansy and Violas
Flowers have a lettuce-like flavour and make a decorative addition to a green salad or to garnish a pâté or dessert. They can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes.
Popular as a garnish on salads. Remove the stalks so they sit open-faced on top of lettuce, cress etc. Crystallise or use in pancakes or cakes. Sprinkle fresh polyanthus blossoms in salads, adding a touch of colour and a sweet taste.
Calendulas have a slightly peppery taste and will add a light, tangy flavour to breads and soups, as well as adding a touch of colour. Will make a bright and tasty addition to a tossed salad.
Petals have a delicate flavour which will improve cool drinks and fruit dishes. Can be crystalised. It is best to remove the white heel from the base of the petals before eating.
The flowers taste similar to the leaves.
The flowers retain their strawberry fragrance as well as a milder strawberry flavour. Float petals in drinks, add to salads.
The buds, petals and seeds are all edible. Add the petals to a green salad for a colour contrast and a mild nutty taste. The green buds can be blanched, then tossed in garlic butter - similar in flavour to a Jerusalem artichoke. The kernels inside the seeds can be eaten raw or toasted as a snack.
Tulip petals have a sweet, pea-like flavour and a tender crisp texture. Try stuffing whole flowers. Add strips of petals to salads or sandwiches for that added touch of colour. Carefully remove pollen and stigmas from the base of the flower before stuffing. Some people have had strong allergic reactions to tulips. If touching them causes a rash, numbness etc. - Don't eat them. Bulbs are not edible.
If you want to purchase some edible flowers online, why don't you have a look at Bumble Bee Flower Farm who are based in West Cork and have a great selection on offer.
You can also read about the recent interest in edible flowers as an industry in an article in the Guardian newspaper HERE
Poisonous Flower Varieties
The following common garden flowers are ALL POISONOUS to a greater or lesser degree -
Anemone, Celandine, Columbine, Christmas Rose (Helleborus), Clematis, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Delphinium , Foxglove, Fritillary, Globe Flower, Hydrangea, Iris, Laburnum, Leopards Bane, Lily of the Valley, Lupin, Marsh Marigold, Monkshood, Morning Glory, Pasque Flower, Periwinkle, Pheasants Eye, St John’s Wort, Spurge, Swallow Wort, Thorn Apple, Tobacco Plant.
How to make crystalised flowers
- Pick the flowers on a dry, sunny day when they are fully open. Remove the stalks.
- Lightly beat an egg white.
- Hold the flower head with tweezers. and use a fine paint brush to paint all surfaces with the egg white.
- Sprinkle fine caster sugar over the flower.
- Shake off any excess sugar before laying the flowers on a sheet of baking parchment. Place in a warm, dry, airy spot for 24–48 hours.
- When fully dry, store the crystallised flowers carefully between layers of baking parchment in an airtight container.