The Essential Guide to Cooking with Edible Flowers

At a Glance

  • Culinary use of edible flowers dates back to Roman times.
  • Edible flowers were favored by the Victorians who used them for everyday cooking.
  • Using edible blossoms for cooking is popular in Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern culture.
  • Flowers are nutritious containing many vitamins and minerals.

Floral ingredients in cooking? Are flowers just adding a splash of color or do they provide nutritional benefit? Can you eat any flower? What do they taste like?

Using edible flowers in cooking goes back thousands of years, but seemed to lose popularity in the twentieth century.

Today, flowers are adorning our plates again; the comeback in using colored petals in foods is a top trend. Salad isles in the supermarket and farmers markets sell an array of food-grade flowers feeding the foodie culture.

If you’re keen to try cooking with edible flowers but don’t know where to start, here’s a quick guide to the benefits of using flowers in cooking. Edibles you can use safely in the kitchen to add flavors to salads, cakes, drinks and more.

Why Use Edible Flowers as Food?

It’s no surprise that flowers are nutritious, palatable and have numerous health benefits. Delicate and versatile floral foods are on trend. Adding flower petals to your salads for texture or as a flavoring for custards, drinks and bread can produce a mouth-watering taste.

Most herb flowers are safe to eat, they have a milder taste of the herb. Certain common weeds are edible too, like dandelion and red clover being two popular ones. Taste ranges from peppery, spicy and herbaceous to floral and fragrant.

The popularity of consuming edible flowers is rising, consumers are enjoying many products made with the inclusion of flowers and perceive them to have health benefits.

Nevertheless, exhibit caution before you pick the flowerbed in your garden, not all flowers are edible. Care when choosing edible flowers is important and you should use only organically grown to ensure you don’t ingest chemicals or pesticides.

Nutritional Value of Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are nutritious containing vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber and a high water content.

Most notable vitamins in edible flower petals are vitamin C and A. An example is nasturtium blossom which has 200 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C per 100g serving.

Mineral content in edible flowers includes: potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron all beneficial to health.

With a low-calorie content, edible flowers definitely have a place in our diets as a good nutritional food source.

Benefits of Edible Flowers for Health

As a functional food, edible flowers have benefits to overall health and could be included in a varied diet. Moreover, most flowers have some kind of health benefit, especially those with red and blue colors; it just shows that every part of a plant is useful.

Notable antioxidant properties of some edible flowers help fight free radical damage and oxidative stress. Some flowers contain phenolic acids, which have associated with an anti-inflammatory property.

Studies on hibiscus flowers showed they have positive benefits on lowering bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol in the body.

Top Edible Flowers to Eat

Here’s our top popular, tasty, nutritious and beneficial for your health edible flowers for your culinary dishes.

Nasturtium

All parts of this plant are edible and nutritious the flowers have a sweet taste and are a good source of Vitamin C. Long used for its disinfectant and antibiotic properties research has shown nasturtium may help combat obesity.

Red Clover Blossoms

A sweet and mild licorice flavor used in soups, salads and beverages worldwide. It’s an antioxidant and research shows evidence that it helps lower cholesterol in humans and may help with diabetic symptoms.

Borage

Tastes like cucumbers, great for salads. Borage is a strong antioxidant and antibacterial traditionally used for flu and infectious diseases.

Violets

A sweet and tangy taste, versatile for salads, desserts and great raw or cooked. Loaded with vitamins A and C and minerals.

Calendula

A tangy, peppery taste, can be used as a substitute for saffron color in cooking, great for soups and salads. Calendula has a high content of Vitamin E, its main properties are as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Chrysanthemum

Has a slightly bitter taste, often used in herbal teas, cold drinks and desserts. It has a high mineral content, containing Vitamins A, B and amino acids. Chrysanthemum has a remarkable antioxidant activity.

Rose

When mentioning edible flowers the rose is king, it’s the longest used of all flowers as an edible. Roses contain Vitamins A and C and are best known as an antidepressant. Rose is also antibacterial and a potent antioxidant, often used for digestive problems, also shown to have antidiabetic effects.

Hibiscus

Well known as a herbal tea, hibiscus is a sweet tasting astringent. Properties of this nutritious flower are numerous; antibacterial, antioxidant, antidiabetic and antihypertensive. Hibiscus is known to have a cooling effect on the blood and studies show it’s effective at lowering blood pressure.

Top Tips for Safe Edible Flower Use

As mentioned not all flowers are edible, some are toxic and should be avoided. You can find lists of flowers for cooking on the reliable websites or use a reference book on edible flowers. Knowledge of positive identification is key to safe use.

Allergy sufferers should try petals instead of whole flowers to avoid eating pollen. As with most things in life, moderation is important, eating too many flowers can lead to a stomach upset.

Preparation for use depends on the flower, however, most can be eaten whole but with some flowers, it’s advisable to remove the stamens and pistils before consuming. Wash produce prior to use in cooking.

Always opt for organically grown flowers to avoid chemicals and pesticides. Vegetable blossoms like the pumpkin, zucchini and squash are delicious. Grow your own if you have space it’s the best option to have a regular fresh supply to your kitchen table.

Final Word for Flowers

Foraging in the garden or wild for edible food can be a pleasurable experience that the whole family can enjoy. Add a little flower power to your diet for an extra health kick.

Once you’ve created your edible flower dish, fill your instafeed with your colorful, creative culinary art.

Cooking with edible flowers is fun and your health will reap the benefits of nature’s most colorful foods.

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