Daisies for Lunch: An Edible Flowers List
guest article by Linda Mix, RN: Author of HERBS FOR LIFE!
Looking for an edible flowers list to add something new, exciting, colorful, flavorful and even healthy for your meal? While picking your veggies, your pick some flowers too! For ages cooks have used flowers in cooking, mostly as a garnish or decoration. But in recent years, more folks are discovering the appeal of the colors and flavors of flowers, and are using them as ingredients. In this article we hope to introduce you to how (and why) to use your own flowers.
First Some Precautions
As with most things, however, a few precautions are in order. Be sure to avoid flowers grown by roadsides, where vehicle exhaust and residues collect on the flowers, or those sprayed with pesticides. While some flowers are toxic, such as foxglove, potato and sweet pea, others simply don't taste good. Also, you should first try a small amount to check for any allergic reactions or digestive problems. As a rule, the most fragrant flowers are the best tasting; but also the more fragrant a flower is, the stronger its flavor. And usually only the colorful parts of the flower petals are used, as other plant parts don't taste as good, particularly the white base of petals.
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The Benefits of Edible Flowers
Before we get into the full edible flowers list below, I want to touch on the nutritional value so you can understand this isn't just a frilly or trendy thing to do. It's good for you, too.
For example chives, signet marigolds, nasturtiums, portulacas, purslanes and roses are rich in Vitamin C; edible weeds such as dandelion flowers provide Vitamins A and C and the greens are high in calcium, iron and phosphorous. And don't throw away those broccoli and cauliflower blooms that you let go too long in the garden! They have many of the same cruciferous benefits as the vegetables.
Calendula and elderberry blooms are two found on the edible flowers list that aid digestion, reduce fevers and stimulate the immune system. California poppies, chamomile, and lavender help ease stress and work as gentle sleep aids. Goldenrod helps relieve allergies and urinary tract infections, and aids in digestion.
Hibiscus contains antioxidants that help prevent cholesterol deposits and aids liver disorders. Honeysuckle and hyssop flowers help relieve respiratory problems and soothe the stomach and colon. Mullein flowers can help respiratory ailments, pain and headaches and induce sleep, nasturtiums contain natural antibiotic properties, and red clover blooms are an excellent blood purifier and make a wonderful tasting tea. Violas and violets have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for respiratory ailments, and yarrow helps relax blood vessels and reduce fevers and colds.
Many of the common herb flowers, such as basil, borage, rosemary, dill, oregano and thyme have the same flavor and medicinal value as the leaves, just not as intense. And the numerous varieties of mint can be added to the edible flowers list, such as apple, orange and chocolate, add a wide array of zest and flavor, besides calming the stomach and aiding digestion.
Some flowers with a floral flavor include apple, pea, lilac, honeysuckle, and scented geranium. Lemon, orange and tuberous begonias have a citrus or tangy flavor. For a bean-like flavor, try redbud, tulip and running green bean blooms.
Arugula, broccoli, mustard, and radish flowers add a spicy flavor to this edible flowers list, and if you don't mind a little bitter tang, try chicory, chrysanthemum, English Daisy and sunflower. Other uncommon flowers found on the edible flowers list include apple blossoms, carnations, cornflowers (also called Blue Bachelor Buttons), freesias, forget-me-nots, gladiolas, marguerite daisies, pansies, evening primrose, and snapdragons.
Another benefit to having an edible flowers list like the one below? It gives you an easy strategy to save more money on healthy foods that most other people overlook. But hey, if TEOTWAWKI happens, you'll be glad you printed this one out, because while everyone else is scavenging for dog food, you'll be all Flower Powered up!
How to Harvest and Use Edible Flowers
Pick flowers first thing in the morning after the dew has dried and just as they are beginning to open for peak flavor. Here is a general list of edible flower uses:
- In or on biscuits or muffins
- To flavor butter
- With pancakes
- Infusing oils
- With pasta
- Flavoring vinegars
- In punch or tea
- In soups
- Atop salads
- Within sandwiches
And a few more unique ideas:
- Squash, zucchini, hibiscus and daylily blooms may be battered and fried, or stuffed and used as "cups" to hold tuna or egg salad.
- Roses used to line a cake pan impart a wonderful flavor to cakes!
- Nasturtium buds may be picked as a substitute for capers and the blooms can be stuffed with herbed cream cheese for excellent hors d'oeuvres.
- Try freezing some flowers in ice cubes to flavor your beverages.
- Pansies, violets and dianthus are beautiful when candied and used to decorate cakes.
- Use your imagination - the sky is the limit!
At a Glance: The Edible FLowers List
Although I've mentioned the entire edible flowers list above in the benefits and uses, I've created this quick at-a-glance list to scan for your reference.
Keep in mind that just because they are on this edible flowers list doesn't mean they will have a flavor you enjoy! Some are strong, tangy, sour, or even bitter. Read above for all the details.
- Apple Blossom
- Begonias (tuberous)
- Cornflowers (Blue Bachelor Buttons)
- English Daisy
- Evening Primrose
- Marguerite Daises
- Mint (apple, orange, chocolate)
- Poppies (California)
- Red clover
- Running Green Bean
- Sunflower petals
There you have it! A long edible flowers list with endless possibilities. Who knew your food could be so enticing and colorful?
Linda Mix, RN is the author of HERBS FOR LIFE! Understand, Use and Grow Your Own Medicinal Herbs. Her book describes 98 plants with medicinal properties, full color photographs to help with identification, and information on how to use the herbs for health benefits, culinary use, and how to grow them. Find her on Facebook as well.