Tasty Blooms

Bee Balm
With spring in full bloom I feel it's only appropriate to post about some of my favorite edible flowers in the garden/wild. Flowers are a great way to spice up a spring dish - each with their own unique flavor and style. Eating flowers is nothing new - but did you know all of these flowers were edible?
  1. Arugula - Eruca vesicaria - a spicy and nutty flavor with hints of pepper. Eat fresh in a salad or on a sandwich
  2. Basil - Ocimum basilicum - varies by variety but tends to taste similar to the leaves only softer. Eat fresh in a salad, sprinkle over pasta or as a garnish with grilled fish and vegetables
  3. Bee Balm - Monarda didyma, and other species - spicy flowers with hints of mint and citrus. Replace any call for oregano with bee balm flowers; petals are great in fruit salads as well
  4. Garden Chives - Allium schoenoprasum - mild onion flavor great in cheeses and used fresh in salads or soups
  5. Clover - Trifolium species - soft sweet flavor that is excellent sauteed for a wild granola recipes. Raw flowers can be hard to digest
  6. Dandelion - Taraxacum officianalis - only eat the petals. Young buds sauteed in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Young flowers are honey-like but get bitter with age. Flowers can be battered and fried to make a delicious dandelion fritter
  7. Gladiolas - Gladiola spp - remove anthers before consuming. Flowers have a soft lettuce flavor and are great fresh in salads or as decorative containers for sweet or savory sauces
  8. Impatiens - Impatiens wallerana - almost tasteless, good fresh for adding interest to a dish or floated in a spring cocktail
  9. Lavender - Lavendula species -  floral and perfume-like. Great for making lavender honey sorbets, cheeses and savory dishes that call for rosemary, just simply swap the two. A fresh sprig is a great garnish for champagne. Remember, a little goes a long way; too much lavender can make any dish bitter
  10. Lilac - Syringa vulgaris - strong lemony-sweet flavor to slightly bitter, varying greatly from plant to plant. Great as a garnish for cakes, sorbets and of course candied
  11. Marigold - Tagetes tenuifolia - citrus flavor with a hint of bitterness. Can be substituted for saffron and the petals are great in salads
  12. Pansy - Viola x wittrockiana -  sweet to soft grass-like flavor, petals are very mild in flavor. Can be candied, used in fruit salads and green salads and are a beautiful garnish for desserts, sorbets and soups
  13. Sunflower - Helianthus annus - when the buds are forming, pluck and steam. tastes similar to artichoke.
  14. Violet - Viola species - sweet and nectar-like. For uses, see pansy
A word of caution: when on the hunt for unusual edibles make sure you know exactly what you're about to consume. If you have any doubt when it comes to identifying an edible flower or have severe pollen allergies, better to be safe than sorry - leave it be. Do not eat flowers from garden centers, nurseries or florists. These flowers are NOT considered food crops and may be sprayed with large amounts of pesticide. Never collect flowers by the roadside due to possible contaminates.

Photo Credit:
US Forest Service

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