Flowers are captivatingly beautiful and tantalizing to the eye so it was really only a matter of time before someone decided to taste them. In fact, the history of utilizing edible flowers goes back for thousands of years with the first recorded mention in 140 B.C. Today, flowers are used not only to garnish plates (forget-me-not), but as spices (saffron ), wraps (squash blossoms), and even to flavor and stabilize alcoholic beverages (hops).
With such a dearth of blooms to choose from, it’s difficult to narrow them down, but here are our top 5 edible flower favorites:
1. Nasturtiums – Loved for their cheerful orange and yellow hues, nasturtiums are commonly seen as “stuffers” trailing down hanging baskets. Nasturtiums are completely edible from their petals, leaves to seeds. They impart a spicy, peppery flavor to salads as well as their brilliant color. You’ll never be bored with a ho-hum salad again if you add some nasturtium blossoms.
2. Roses – Roses impart romance and often luxury. Although usually just the petals of the flower are used to garnish or flavor food, the entirety of the flower is edible, although the interior of the blossom tends to be bitter. They have a sweet, slightly spicy flavor.
3. Lavender – Lavender has soothing, aromatherapy properties but is also edible. They have a distinct floral flavor with a nuance of rosemary and mint. Just a hint of lavender beautifully flavors desserts such as honey lavender ice cream.
4. Calendula – The historical use of calendula as a flavoring stretches way back in history. Known as the “poor man’s saffron, calendula imparts a yellow tint to food and a saffron-like flavor.
5. Violets – Traditional garnishes used during the Victorian era, violets are still used to perfume salads, desserts and beverages. They are lovely decorating frosted cakes, sorbets and other sweets.