Tips on Choosing Edible Flowers for Your Garden
Growing your own food can be immensely rewarding, but there may be areas of your garden, particularly in your front garden, that you don't want to plant a vegetable patch. Choosing plants with edible flowers allows you to create beautiful flower beds and your neighbours won't have any idea you're actually growing food.
Edible flowers have long been used for making teas and adding to salads and soups, but most people don't know which flowers are edible, how they taste or how to use them. Here's an overview of popular garden plants with edible flowers:
The flowers of the following annual plants can be safely eaten:
- Nasturtium—Brightly coloured nasturtium flowers have a peppery taste not unlike watercress. Add to salads and cheese platters.
- Violas—These flowers have a sweet flavour and are delicious as a cake topping or mixed with whipped cream and served with fresh scones.
- Signet Marigold—These citrusy white, red or yellow flowers work well with olives, asparagus and herbed couscous.
- Sunflower—Pick sunflower buds just before they open and use them in place of artichokes in your favourite recipes.
The flowers of the following perennial plants can be safely eaten:
- Daylily—These flowers have a taste similar to asparagus and are delicious in stir-fry. You can also stuff them with herbed soft cheese and chopped nuts.
- Tulip—The slightly sweet flavour of tulips makes them ideal for adding to fruit salads or homemade ice-cream.
- Red Clover—The bright, sweet flowers of red clover can be dried to make tea, added to lemonade or made into jelly.
- Dandelion—You may have these 'weeds' in your garden already. Don't just pull them out; the slightly bitter flowers are delicious dipped in batter, fried and served with sour cream.
Preparing Edible Flowers
Pick your flowers and store them in a lidded container in the fridge until you want to use them. Just before use, remove the stamens and styles inside the flowers as pollen can alter the flavour of flowers. You should also remove the sepals, the green part of the flower just below the petals, as they tend to be bitter. Gently wash the flowers and use immediately to prevent spoiling.
There are a number of flowers that are poisonous, so never eat a flower if you're not absolutely sure what kind it is. Here are some common garden flowers that are poisonous:
- Calla lilies
There are many more plants with edible flowers for you to discover and enjoy. Just ask local nurseries like The Greenery Garden Centre for details of the edible plants they stock.