It’s time to take your love of florals beyond centerpieces and gift bouquets, and into the kitchen. Say hello to spring with edible flowers, a great way to add a pop of color and elegance to salads, smoothie bowls, toasts, cocktails, and more—especially when you’re entertaining.
Garnishing with flowers takes careful consideration, as edible flowers can vary as much in taste as they do in shape and color. In general, when choosing which dishes to garnish with edible flowers, you’ll want to stay away from warm dishes that are sauce or broth-based, as the moist heat from the food will cause the delicate flowers to wilt and become soggy.
Let’s dive into the flavor profiles and best uses for our favorite edible flowers, so you can turn your meals from good to gourmet.
A note on sourcing: be sure to buy your flowers from a reputable vendor or store. Picking wild flowers for edible use is not advised, as many can cause allergic reactions or even be poisonous. When shopping for edible flowers (you can usually find them near the florist at your grocery store) you’ll want to look for flowers that were grown and harvested without pesticides, which can affect flavor and coloring.
Pro tip: If you aren’t planning to use your flowers right away, wrap them gently in a moist paper towel or cloth, and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They should last for 2-3 days before wilting.
One of the spring produce arrivals that we most look forward to each year is zucchini—both for the vegetable itself, and for its versatile, delicious blossoms. With a mildly sweet, delicate flavor and beautiful orange hue, zucchini blossoms are one of the most well known edible flowers on the market, and the one you’re most likely to find on restaurant menus.
Zucchini blossoms have larger blooms than most edible flowers, which make them perfect for stuffing with a soft cheese like goat or ricotta and lightly frying as a delicious appetizer. They’re also delicious when chopped and mixed into a frittata before baking, or added raw as a garnish to a flatbread or pizza.
Known for their bright yellow-orange hue, calendula petals add a lovely pop of color to a dish, whether added as a raw garnish or cooked into a sauce.
One of our favorite hacks is sautéeing calendula leaves in olive oil, which releases the petals’ flavor and bright yellow tint into the oil in a way that mimics saffron’s flavor and color—without the spice’s hefty price tag.
As a raw garnish, the petals’ slightly spicy taste add nice depth of flavor to everything from scrambled eggs to homemade salsa.
Bee balm petals—with their magenta hue and minty taste—make for a lovely garnish in a fresh, summer cocktail like a French 75, mimosa, or mojito.
Dried bee balm petals can also be brewed into a delicious cup of herbal tea. To dry bee balm (or any flower), bundle the stems together and hang upside down in a cool, dark place, until the petals are crisp. Once dried, steep the petals in boiling water for 4-8 minutes, strain, and let cool before drinking.
Nasturtiums come in a wide range of jewel tone colors—ranging from reds to golds and deep oranges—that all share a similar sharp, peppery flavor profile, similar to that of watercress or arugula.
Nasturtium petals can be used in place of cracked black pepper on salads and toasts—especially avocado toast, where the slight spice of the nasturtium perfectly balances the creamy avocado.
If you’re entertaining, nasturtium petals also serve as a great garnish for a well composed charcuterie board—we’ve got you covered on constructing that, too.
Hibiscus’ sweet, berry-like flavor makes it a popular infusion for sweet teas, cocktails, and other warm weather beverages like hibiscus lemonade. We also love freezing hibiscus petals into ice cubes to use in lemonade, teas, and cocktails as a garnish—it adds a beautiful visual touch, while also yielding a lovely taste to the drink as the cubes melt.
Hibiscus Ice Cubes
1. Gently wash flowers.
2. Fill ice cube trays ⅓ full with distilled water.
3. Add a single flower to each partially-filled ice cube well, and freeze.
4. Once frozen, fill the remaining ⅔ of the tray with distilled water. Return to freezer.
5. Once ice cubes are completely frozen, add to your favorite cold beverage, and enjoy!
You likely already use lavender-scented soaps, candles, and perfumes around your home, so why not share some of that lavender love with the kitchen, as well?
Try infusing lavender into light, champagne-based cocktails or popsicles, where the petals lend both a delicate, perfumed flavor and a beautiful amethyst shade.
This Blueberry-Lavender Galette is also a crowd favorite here at Plated—the vibrant tang of the blueberries contrasts nicely with floral sweetness of the dried lavender.
Rose petals aren’t just for romantic Valentine’s Day celebrations! These aromatic petals are often sweet and mildly fruity in flavor, and vary in potency. You can usually gauge a rose petal’s potency by its smell—the more fragrant the bouquet, the more flavorful and sweet its petals will taste.
Dried rose petals make a delicious base for a sweet, floral tea, as well as a tasty addition to your favorite homemade granola recipe. Meanwhile, fresh rose petals can be sprinkled over vanilla ice cream, infused into rosewater, or transformed into a delicious jam.
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