Which flowers are edible?

Lavender is an edible flower you can grow in the garden
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Foraged flowers or those more common varieties we find in the garden can sometimes get discarded or allowed to wilt and die off. But, there are lots of edible flowers that can add a real pungent flavour to homemade meals. There are lots of different types of flowers that we can eat. They can pep up a pasta dish, add some sass to a salad as well as being transformed into tasty teas or used in baking.

Before we get onto the most widely available flowers, there are some important things to remember.

  • Home grown organic flowers are best – they won’t have been subjected to any commercial chemicals. Shop-bought flowers could be laced with chemicals.
  • Know what you’re picking – only eat flowers that have been identified as edible.
  • Don’t over-pick the flowers. We still need to leave plenty of pollen for the bees and other insects.

So what edible flowers can you find in your garden?

Lavender is an edible flower you can grow in the garden

Lavender

These purple plumes have a familiar taste and are best picked once the flowers first open and before any seeds have formed.

Use lavender in jams, jellies, ice cream or biscuits.

Nasturtium is an edible flower that can be easily grown in the garden

Nasturtium

Easy to grow and are a great plant to choose to get children into gardening. The petals, leaves and seed pods are all edible. Nasturtiums provide abundant flowers with a spicy, peppery taste. The leaves, meanwhile have a similar taste to cress. Use these flowers to pretty up a salad, pasta or to make a vinaigrette.

Chives and the flower heads are an easy edible flower to grow in the garden

Chives

As you would expect, the flowerheads at the end of a chive stem have a distinct onion flavour, but it’s not overpowering.

Chive flowers really pretty up a plate and we love to use them in homemade potato salad.

Basil flowers are edible

Basil

There’s no need to panic if your basil bolts and pretty flower heads form – as they’re edible.

The flavour is similar to the leaves, albeit a little milder. Pick the flower tops as soon as they open and use in the usual way that you would basil – in salads, pasta, soups or pesto.

Simnel Cake decorated with edible viola flowers

Viola

Violas really pretty up a plate. They transform a salad or starter. We used them on our Easter Simnel Cake.

As for flavour, they are pretty mild with a slightly sweet hue.

Other edible flowers – that you can forage or grow

Thyme

Thyme flowers are very pretty and perfectly edible. Sprinkle over steaks and salads. They also go exceptionally well with a goats’ cheese.

Elderflower

Elderflowers can be turned into a cordial. Elderflower goes really well with gooseberries, light sorbet, custards and ice cream. If you enjoy a brew, dry the flowers to turn into a tea.

Dandelions

Yes, these long-associated weeds are actually edible. But, they have to be young flowers which taste of honey. More mature blooms become more bitter the older they get. Turn young dandelions into a tasty tea, wine or beer. For something savoury, coat the flowers in Gram Flour (Chickpea Flour) and a little Garam Masala and shallow fry to make dandelion-style bhaji.

Pot marigold

The orange or yellow flowers come in a range of flavours. They could be spicy, bitter, tangy or peppery. Powdered petals are known as poor man’s saffron! It gives a hint of gold to herb butter, spreads, soups and even scrambled egg. Pick the flowers when they are just open for fresh use and also drying.

Cornflowers

Pale pink or blue cornflowers are perfectly edible. It’s recommended that they are scattered over iced cakes.

Courgette, Squash, Marrow & Pumpkin

These large, yellow flowers are delicious coated in batter and deeply-fried. Stuff with mozzarella then either steam or bake.

Borage

Borage flowers have a flavour reminiscent of cucumber so they’re just what you need when it’s Pimms o’clock! They will also definitely pretty up a Pimms cocktail.

Dill & Fennel

Both have a sweet aniseed flavour. Fennel pollen is particularly popular to fish dishes as well as used in cakes, stuffings, salads or vinegars.

Pinks

Also known as Dianthus. These flowers are spicy and clove-like. Add to salads, sandwiches and pickle into vinegar and make it into a syrup.

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