Edible flowers tips and hints
Using edible flowers as a garnish makes any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavor of the flower compliments the dish.
- Place a colorful gladiolus or hibiscus flower (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favorite dip.
- Sprinkle edible flowers in your green salads for a splash of color and taste.
- Freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes for a pretty addition to punches and other beverages.
- Use in flavored oils, vinaigrettes, jellies, and marinades.
- One of the most popular uses is candied or crystallized flowers, used to decorate and fine.
- Asthmatics or others who suffer allergic reactions to composite-type flowers (calendula, chicory, chrysanthemum, daisy, English daisy, and marigold) should be on alert for possible allergic reaction.
- Never use non-edible flowers as a garnish. You must assume that if guests find a flower on a plate of food, they will think it edible.
- Use flowers sparingly in your recipes, particularly if you are not accustomed to eating them. Too much of a pretty thing can lead to digestive problems.
Where to Buy
The best place to find them is your local farmers’ market. Not only are the options more interesting than what’s available at grocery stores, but you can also talk to vendors to make sure their crops are safe for you to eat (note: avoid flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals).
If you don’t have a farmers’ market nearby, look for edible flowers in the produce section (not the florist section!) of your grocery store. You can also order them online. Shops like Gourmet Sweet Botanicals will ship to you overnight so they’re as fresh as possible.
How to Clean and Store
1. Shake flowers to remove any insects or excess dirt.
2. Gently wash in a large bowl of cold water; drain.
3. Let flowers air-dry on a paper towel–lined tray.
4. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, lined with damp paper towels, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Flowers to Try
For the most part, edible flowers taste like they smell. Our advice: Buy a few different kinds and experiment! That’s the only real way to decide what you like. Just keep in mind that not every flower is edible. Only buy ones you can identify and know are 100% safe to eat. Here are some of our favorites for cooking, but you can visit the The Chef’s Garden for more options:
• Arugula Flowers: Peppery flavor, just like arugula leaves. Use in salads or other savory dishes.
• Chive Blossoms: Delicate, oniony flavor. Use whole flowers or separate the individual petals.
• Hibiscus: Tart and sweet. Often used in teas, cocktails, and salads.
• Jasmine: Very sweet, floral fragrance and flavor. Use in teas or desserts.
• Johnny-Jump-Ups: Minty, almost bubblegum-y flavor. Serve on cakes or with soft mild cheese, like goat cheese.
• Lavender: Floral flavor that’s perfume-y and faintly citrusy. Use in cocktails, teas, desserts, or other baked goods.
• Lemon Verbena: Light lemon flavor that’s well-suited for sweet or savory cooking.
• Marigold: Faint citrus flavor. Try it in a salad.
• Nasturtiums: Peppery flavor and golden hue. Try them on crostini with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
• Pansies: Use these as garnish — they’re so pretty! Faint grassy flavor.
• Squash Blossoms: Mild raw squash taste. Usually cooked before eaten. Lightly dust with cornstarch and deep fry.
• Violets: Sweet and floral. Use in dessert or freeze into ice cubes for decorative drinking.
AVOCADO CHIMICHURRI CANAPES WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS
Ingredients: serves 4
- 2 large ripe avocados
- ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 3-4 grinds of freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices rye bread
- 2 tablespoon Spice Chica Chimichurri sauce
- Slice avocados in half lengthwise and remove pit. Using a spoon, scoop the avocado flesh from the skin and place in a bowl. Add lemon juice, chimichurri sauce, salt, and pepper, then using a fork, mash the avocado and mix until blended. Set aside.
- Trim the crusts from the slices of rye bread. Then cut slices; 3/4 inch thick..
- When ready to serve, lightly toast the rye bread. Once toasted, spread the avocado mixture onto the rye toasts. Garnish with edible flowers.