Edible Flowers Chart

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Cooking Articles    Edible Flowers    Herbs, Spices and Seasoning Hints & Tips    Vegan Recipes   

 

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Edible flowers are the new rage in haute cuisine

 

After falling out of favor for many years, cooking and garnishing with flowers is back in vogue once again.  Flower cookery has been traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures.  Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era during Queen Victoria’s reign.

Today, many restaurant chefs and innovative home cooks garnish their entrees with flower blossoms for a touch of elegance.  The secret to success when using edible flowers is to keep the dish simple, do not add to many other flavors that will over power the delicate taste of the flower.  Today this nearly lost art is enjoying a revival.  Please use this Edible Flowers Chart before eating any flowers.

 

Edible Flowers

Photo of edible flowers picked in Linda’s garden in July (lavender, thyme, dill, cilantro, day lily, squash blossom, Nasturtiums, chives, and basil). 

 

One very important thing that you need to remember is that not every flower is edible.

In fact, sampling some flowers can make you very, very sick.

You also should NEVER use pesticides or other chemicals on any part of any plant that produces blossoms you plan to eat.

Never harvest flowers growing by the roadside.

Identify the flower exactly and eat only edible flowers and edible parts of those flowers.

Always remember to use flowers sparingly in your recipes due to the digestive complications that can occur with a large consumption rate.  Most herb flowers have a taste that’s similar to the leaf, but spicier.  The concept of using fresh edible flowers in cooking is not new.

How To Choose Edible Flowers – Edible Flower Chart:

 

Begonia – Tuberous begonias and Waxed begonias  –

Tuberous Begonias (Begonia X tuberosa) – The leaves, flowers, and stems are edible. Begonia blossoms have a citrus-sour taste. The petals are used in salads and as a garnish.  Stems, also, can be used in place of rhubarb.  The flowers and stems contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism.

Wax Begonias (Begonia cucullata) – The fleshy leaves and flowers are edible raw or cooked.  They can have a slight bitter after taste and if in water most of the time, a hint of swamp in their flavor.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – Also called Marigolds.  A wonderful edible flower.  Flavors range from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery.  Their sharp taste resembles saffron (also known as Poor Mans Saffron).  Has pretty petals in golden-orange hues.  Sprinkle them on soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads.  Petals add a yellow tint to soups, spreads, and scrambled eggs.  Only the pedals are edible.

Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus – aka Dianthus) – Carnations can be steeped in wine, candy, or use as cake decoration.  To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower.  Dianthus are the miniature member of the carnation family with light clove-like or nutmeg scent. Petals add color to salads or aspics.  Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that has been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange.  They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower.  They sould be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad.  The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar.  Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only.  Young leaves and stems of the Crown Daisy, also known as Chop Suey Greens or Shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.

Clover (Trifolium species) – Sweet, anise-like, licorice.  White and red clover blossoms were used in folk medicine against gout, rheumatism, and leucorrhea.  It was also believed that the texture of fingernails and toenails would improve after drinking clover blossom tea.  Native Americans used whole clover plants in salads, and made a white clover leaf tea for coughs and colds.  Avoid bitter flowers that are turning brown, and choose those with the brightest color, which are tastiest.  Raw flower heads can be difficult to digest.

Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus) – Also called Bachelors button.  They have a slightly sweet to spicy, clove-like flavor.  Bloom is a natural food dye.  More commonly used as garnish.

Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) – Also called Sweet Rocket or Dame’s Violet.  This plant is often mistaken for Phlox.  Phlox has five petals, Dame’s Rocket has just four.  The flowers, which resemble phlox, are deep lavender, and sometimes pink to white.  The plant is part of the mustard family, which also  includes radishes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and, mustard.  The plant and flowers are edible, but fairly bitter.  The flowers are attractive added to green salads.  The young leaves can also be added to your salad greens (for culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers).  The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads.  NOTE: It is not the same variety as the herb commonly called Rocket, which is used as a green in salads.

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) – Member of the Daisy family.  Flowers are sweetest when picked young.  They have a sweet, honey-like flavor.  Mature flowers are bitter.  Dandelion buds are tastier than the flowers: best to pick these when they are very close to the ground, tightly bunched in the center, and about the size of a small gumball.  Good raw or steamed.  Also made into wine.  Young leaves taste good steamed, or tossed in salads.  When serving a rice dish use dandelion petals like confetti over the rice.

Day LiliesDay Lilies (Hemerocallis species) – Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon.  Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini.  Chewable consistency.  Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors.  To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower.  Also great to stuff like squash blossoms.  Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake.  Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad.  In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus.  NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible.  Day Lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation.

English Daisy (Bellis perennis) – The flowers have a mildly bitter taste and are most commonly used for their looks than their flavor. The petals are used as a garnish and in salads.