Edible flowers

White_basket_of_edible flowers
Freshly picked garden edible flowers. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. We’re into joyous June already with all the lovely things this month brings in the garden. As well as being beautiful to look at, there are many varieties of garden flowers that can be grown to eat as well as admire. I planted a small patch of plants in late spring for this very purpose, and now the plants are established, every now and then I pick a few petals to liven up salads and to decorate desserts. Many of the herbs are producing flowers now and these are also good to eat.

Edible flower patch and other floral delights. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Not every flower is edible so please do your research before you start picking and eating. If you are planning on eating your flowery plantings, it is best to avoid spraying them with any chemicals and to try and grow them as organically as possible. Once picked, use quickly and give the flowers a very gentle rinse and pat dry with absorbent paper before eating to remove any dust or soil.

Top row: chive; cranesbill (common geranium); clove pink/dianthus; fragrant rose; calendula/marigold.
Bottom row: parsley; salad burnet; scented geranium; thyme; violas and heartsease (wild pansy).
Images: Kathryn Hawkins

If you’ve never tried eating flowers before, I guess you might be thinking, what do they taste like? As a rough guide, the fragrance of the flower is very much like its taste. Herb flowers like chive, thyme, sage and rosemary have the same flavour as the herb itself, just much milder. Calendula/marigold petals can be used to give a saffron colour to dishes and have a light peppery flavour. Clove pinks get their name from their sweet, spicy aroma and taste like a mild version of the same-named spice – make sure you remove the petals from the white central core (this can be bitter and tough). When it comes to roses and geraniums, the most fragrant varieties are the ones for eating, anything without a pleasant aroma will not have much flavour.

Ready for eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To start your floral culinary journey, eat individual petals rather than whole heads until you are used to the texture and flavour. Most flowers contain vitamin C and some have anti-inflammatory properties like calendula. I think above all else they bring a little bit of extra joy and colour to your plate and can really lift the spirits. Until next time, happy pretty eating!

Floral eats. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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