Enjoying Edible Flowers
by Holly Boettcher
Can you imagine the surprised look on our guests’ faces when we serve a fruit and cheese platter, or caprese salad garnished with edible flowers that we have grown in our gardens? What a culinary experience using edibles on the tomatoes that were started from seed in March and grown to fruition right here too. The color and interest that edible flowers create makes a statement that we are foodies and love to grow beautiful plants that not only can be eaten but can garnish a dish like the frosting on the cake!
Some plants are poisonous, and others are nutritious and delicious. Where does one begin to decipher these blooms? Since I use them year-round, I have some tips for you.
My favorite! This year I planted some in the soil, I planted some in containers, and I planted some in hanging baskets, including the one pictured. The seeds can be purchased at a local garden center or ordered online. They need to be scarified (or scarred with a nail file or nicked with a sharp object to speed up germination). I also soak them for a few days before planting. They do not like to be transplanted, so consider up front where you will plant them. Nasturtiums are easy to care for and disease resistant. The colors are vibrant orange, yellow, or red and the plants are vining which makes them perfect for hanging baskets. The flavor is peppery, likened to watercress or a delicate radish.
You can find pansies (and in the spring, “Johnny-jump-ups”) this time of year. They make a great addition to fall gardens or containers because they are quite hardy to a light frost. Besides being very colorful in shades of purple, yellow, red, and beige, they are edible and beautiful when used to top a salad or dish. Consider freezing them in ice cube trays for a spectacular beverage.
My Stella de Oros are still blooming! All daylilies are edible, and the taste reminds me of asparagus. This prolific plant keeps on blooming and will do best if you continue to deadhead well into a late frost.
Think brilliant purple flowers on chives, and starbursts of seed heads likened to snowflakes on leeks, and garlic. All make a great garnish for potato salad or other dishes.
Another staple in the garden that will perform until a mild frost. The marigold will make any dish pop!
I was harvesting butternut squash this week and was delighted to locate a few squash blossoms. They make a lovely garnish for a salad, and I also like to stuff them with a seasoned fish fillet then bake in the oven. Hopefully you can still find some in your garden this time of year too.
Make sure your edibles have not been contaminated with insecticides or herbicides and are clean of any chemicals.
Have Fun! Use your imagination! There are so many uses for edible flowers.