I posted this Wednesday my tempura courgette blossoms (link HERE) and told you how much I love flowers and how my dad thaught me all about edible flowers and herbs. Today I share my ultimate edible flowers guide and how to use them in your cooking and your drinks.
EDIBLE FLOWERS – of course not all flowers are edible i.e. some will make you sick hence it is important to know what you are picking and putting on a plate. DO NOT eat flowers bought at the florist or garden centre, they may be the ornamental variety or sprayed with chemical pesticides and are not for consumption. Buy them from the organic grocery store in the fresh food section or farmers market. Or even better grow them yourself. Food regulation in Belgium dictate that restaurants can only use edible flowers ( versus decorative) in their dishes. Some flowers are great eaten fresh, some dried too steep and some are used as an essence in desserts and cocktails .
my fuchsia in my urban garden, cultivated and given by friend Flavio – sooooo GORG
My little violets are doing really well .
The most common edible flowers available and grown in Belgium are:
- ALLIUMS – chive and garlic flowers are delightful in salads.
- ANGELICA – this distinct anise-liquorice flavour is great in salads and with fish and crustaceans.
- BORAGE – this blue star shaped flavour is great in salads and super beautiful in a cocktail.
- CHERVIL – anise – liquorice flavour is great in salads and with fish and crustaceans.
- CORIANDER flower – milder taste like the leaves, toss it in salads.
- ELDERFLOWER – these white blossoms have a sweet taste, great in cordial, cocktails, tea and jam.
- FENNEL – anise – licorice flavour is great in salads and with fish and crustaceans.
- FUSHIA – these gorgeous vibrant coloured blooms are slightly acid in flavour. Great in salads and decorate a cocktail.
- HIBISCUS – this flower has a cranberry-like flavour. Used dried as tea or use the syrup in cocktails.
- JASMINE – very fragrant flower is mostly used dried for tea or in a syrup for cocktails .
- LAVENDAR – very distinct flavour can be used in almost every thing both as fresh flower or essence in desserts like creme brulée, cocktails and salads.
- LEMON VERBENA – the leaves are dried and used as a digestive tea or used to flavour syrup for desserts and cocktails.
- LILAC – is very fragrant but has a slight biter taste. Great to crystallize with egg whites and sugar.
- LINDEN – the delightful honey fragrant white to yellow flowers are mostly used for tea.
- MARIGOLDS – calendula : has golden-orange edible petals ( do not eat the rest of the blossom) and often called the poor-mans saffron. It has a strong tangy and slight bitter taste. There are also tagetes who have a citrus flavour. Great in salads and with vegetables.
- MINT – use as the leaves, great in Middle Eastern dishes.
- NASTURTIUMS – called capucine come in sunset colours and has a peppery flavour. Great in salads and topping vegetable dishes.
- ORANGE BLOSSOM – my FAVOURITE!! I absolutely love this flower, it is my perfume but also as an essence used in middle eastern baking and tea. AHDORE
- OREGANO – use as the leaves in Italian cooking such as pastas.
- PANSY – violet petals have a slight sweet grassy flavour. Great in salads, decorate a cocktail or dessert. Also great to crystallise in eggwhites and sugar.
- PEA BLOSSOMS – be careful~ornamental pea flowers are poisonous, the edible garden pea flower produces actual pea pods. Great in salads.
- ROSES – all rose petals are edible and have a strawberry sweet kind of flavor, some have more pronounced flavour from variety to variety. Great in salads, with fruit and as an essence in cakes, cookies, jam and ice cream, and in cocktails very decorative.
- ROSEMARY – milder flavour than the leaves great with grilled meat like lamb.
- SAGE – milder flavour than the leaves great with grilled meat and pasta.
- SCENTED GERANIUMS – the most know is the lemon geranium, also the leaves are edible. Great in salads and desserts.
- SUNFLOWERS – eat them in the bud stage like an artichoke or the bittersweet petals from a mature flower. Great in salads.
- SQUASH BLOSSOMS – all squash flowers are edible, stuff with soft cheese like ricotta or deep fry coated in batter. see my recipe HERE.
- THYME – milder flavour than the leaves great with grilled white meat like chicken and veal and with fish and crustaceans.
Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals.