Although most of us don’t consider flowers edible or even ingredients that can add dimension to a meal, there are plenty of cultures and recipes that require petals, stems, or roots. For example, dandelions, a common weed, are often used in Italian salads. If you’re interested in learning how florals can be incorporated into your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, read on.
Lavender is a wonderfully scented flower that is often dried and turned into an oil for use in baths, essential oil diffusers, or perfumes. This purple flower can be found in citrus teas, but it is also used as a garnish for other meals. French wine and cocktail connoisseurs will freeze lavender petals into ice cubes and put them in drinks. Lavender is one of the most versatile ingredients when cooking with flowers because it can put in sweet and savory foods.
The hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants that can get quite large. They are widely cultivated as ornamental plants and for teas because of their high vitamin C content. Both sweet and tart, hibiscus petals taste similarly to cranberries, making them perfect in cocktails and desserts. One of the yummiest usages for hibiscus is in quesadillas when spiced.
3. Zucchini Blossoms
You’ve likely bought zucchini to cook with in the past, but did you know the zucchini blossoms are also edible? Zucchini blossoms don’t have the same cucumber-like flavor that the zucchini has. Instead, their sweet and delicate flavor is useful as a topping rather than a staple in a meal. These blossoms work great on pizza topped with other herbs, cherry tomatoes, and goat cheese. Commonly found in Italian foods, you can cook, fry, or bake them into cookies.
Also called the “poor man’s saffron,” calendula has a similar smell and taste to the most expensive spice in the world. Its marigold leaves are really charming and bring out a bit of color in salads, but they start to taste super sweet when sauteed in olive oil. Add a bit of calendula to deviled eggs, or steep them in a tea for this flower’s nourishing properties on the face and skin.
The nasturtium is an interesting flower because it doesn’t taste sweet or bitter like the vast majority of the other editable florals. Instead, they are slightly peppery and taste similar to watercress. You can cook them into summer rice paper rolls to add a bit of spice, or stuff the whole flower with a savory mousse to enjoy them with a beef carpaccio. Nasturtiums are also great bases in pesto and hot sauces, although they may need hot peppers to taste.
The classic rose is incredibly versatile as a gift for Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, but they can also act as a subtle and fruity addition to ice creams, soups, salads, jams, pies, tarts, and tea. Be sure to wash your roses completely because most of them are mass-produced and have pesticides on their pedals. To avoid this, research where your flowers are coming from.
Panies look fantastic aesthetically in most cocktails or fruit salads, but their slightly grassy and minty flavor may not suit all summer treats. However, adding cream cheese on top of a small round cracker with a whole pansy can be a nice, light snack at any party. Panies work best in deserts, like a chocolate cake or baked into cookies. Some bakers will crystallize pansies in sugar or cream to act as a centerpiece at a party because it’s both edible and beautiful.
Although these flowers go by the name “violet,” they come in multiple pastel and vibrant colors. Violets taste sweet and flowery, which makes them perfect as garnishes for salads and ice drinks. These flowers look beautiful crystalized and topped on cakes, but they taste good enough to eat on their own or with sugar. Put violets in a vinegar bath for a yummy vinaigrette.