Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers

I like to use edible flowers - both fresh and dried - in my cooking. The fragrance, the color, the range of petal shapes - it all makes them irresistible to me. Spring and summer are when I encounter the widest range of blossoms, and because I get a lot of questions related to sourcing and using edible flowers, I thought I'd write up a few of the things I do to ensure I have a supply throughout the year.

Edible Flowers

I've included a number of the things I've learned down below, in the section that normally hosts the recipe. One of my favorite things to do, with certain flowers, is simply dry the petals. These organic rose petals are about halfway through the process of drying (instructions below). They lose an incredible amount of volume as they dry, so even if you feel as if you're starting with more petals than you could possibly use, keep in mind you'll end up with far less than when you started.

Edible Flowers
Also, please keep in mind, not all parts of the flower are edible, and some varietals should be avoided if you are pregnant or nursing. There are some good online references (for ex: here, here, and here), so be sure to read up.

Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers

5 from 2 votes

Instructions
Sourcing edible flowers:
  1. You basically have two options - you can buy them, or grow them. If you buy them, be sure to seek out organically grown flowers free of any spray or pesticides. If you grown them yourself, keep in mind you'll eventually be consuming them, so treat them accordingly.

Flower petals I use most:
  1. hibiscus, rose, rose geranium, violet, calendula, chive, basil, thyme, cherry blossom, zucchini blossom, and nasturtium. Keep in mind, not all flowers are edible, some are poisonous, and proper identification is essential. Again, not all parts of the flower are edible, and some varietals should be avoided if you are pregnant or nursing, so please read up with some of the references I link to up above.  On the rose front, heirloom varietals are broadly thought to have better flavor and fragrance, with newer roses often bred for appearance rather than flavor (fragrance).

Using fresh flowers:
  1. Once cut, I tend to keep flowers in clean water until I'm ready to use them. They typically last this way from 1-5 days, with regular refreshing of the water. I'll typically trim or pluck petals from the vase as I need them. If I get the sense I might not use them entirely while fresh, I make the move to dry them before they go bad. (instructions below)

To dry flowers:
  1. This requires patience and a bit of space. I'll start by saying I haven't had luck drying flowers in a low-heat oven. The petals quickly lose color and vibrancy. Instead, I arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave them for about a week, using your fingertips to toss them every day or so, or until dry and crisp. I usually wait until they seem completely dry, and then give them another couple of days to rid themselves of any residual moisture I might not be able to sense. At this point transfer to a tight jar or container.

Notes

Please let me know if you have other favorite edible flower ideas, uses, or references. I saw a rose petal paste the other day that looked incredible, and I'm always looking for other ideas, techniques to explore. On the list to try: Lilac Honey (thx Shari!) & Lilac Sugar, & chive blossom vinegar xo -h

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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  • I´ve read you can also make a small bag with muslin and hang inside your petals in a dry and warm place for a couple of days shaking it. Of course it should be a small ammount. For bigger leaves like sage and lavender i just hang a bunch of them in a dry place over my kitchen and they dry perfect.

    Noelia
  • I want to put in a good word for lavender flowers. Although I've enjoyed growing them in the past for their beauty and fragrance, I've never dried my own. I purchased what I envisioned would be a small amount of blossoms marketed explicitly as edible and have been drawing from the same batch for years. I use them primarily when brewing tisanes (herbal teas).

    JoanM
  • I make rose petal jam and rose petal syrup. I also use fresh rose petals on top of cakes. The rest get dried!

    dc
  • A lovely post Heidi. Flowers just add so much to the look and scent of dishes. In the UK steenbergs.co.uk do good quality edible dried rose petals and lavender, in fact I've just ordered more of the rose petals to make a fresh batch of your gorgeous granola. Last year I grew nasturtiums to eat the flowers but I must admit I didn't have much luck as they just did too good a job as a companion plant to my veggies and got covered in little black aphids. Apparently the trick is to plant another nasturtium just for eating along way from your veg plot. I'm currently planning to build a greenhouse later this year and this has got me wondering if that might work as a good place to dry petals.

    Sophie
  • Lovely ideas! My nasturtiums are just blooming all over the garden as we speak :). I'll be honest, I use basil flowers almost as much as leaves - I love their strong taste and they are easy to get into salads when I'm feeling lazy!

    Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic
  • Talking about edible flowers, I love the Indian style stir fry. It is a pain & technique to clean the banana flowers, but I think it is well worth the effort. I have made it following my Mom's recipe. I can post if you like.

    Anagha
  • Do you have a good online source for purchasing edible flowers? I wanted to try your Mast-o-Khiar recipe some time ago, but could only find Rose hips at the store I go to (Central Market). Even at Amazon, they seem to have pedals, but I am not sure about their origin.

    Janine
  • Heidi, this is special. I was just talking with my mom this morning about the fact that lilacs are edible. Who knew?! We've been pulling in lots of them up north here in Michigan and enjoying the scent, and I think the flavor would be divine. Can't wait to go after the cherry blossoms here next year, and the lavender this summer. Of course, with my Lebanese background I love Rose & Orange Blossom, and named my blog after them...how exciting to explore beyond those two.

    Maureen Abood
  • I'm so glad you shared these tips on drying flowers! What a fun project!

    la domestique
  • Gorgeous pictures! I love grinding some of the dried flower petals with sugar to dust chocolates and pastry - rose petals here give a beautiful pink scented hue.

    Nicola
  • bachelor's buttons, oregano, lavender, and mint flowers are others i use. there are so many! recently i was out of dried roses, so i made your rose petal granola with a mixture of wild violets and pink apple blossoms (pistils/stamens removed) from our land. epicurious has a great lavender scone recipe that is excellent with lemon curd. they also have a recipe for chamomile-infused whipped cream which is great with summer berries. for drying, i made a simple wood frame with fine wire. i've come across similar items at flea markets. thanks for sharing.

    meliSsa
  • Beautiful! I haven't dared yet to cook/decorate with edible flowers, but I'm definitely going to grow some soon with your tips. Thanks!

    Diane @ Vintage Zest
  • I have edible roses in mz garden and I make a very tasty rose petal jam.

    Laura @ Transylvanian Kitchen
  • hi heidi, this is lovely. do you have the new book by miche bacher? i also saw winnie abramson's post on lilac honey recently and wanted to try it. xo

    HS: No, Shari - clearly I need to track it down! Will look for Winnie's post too. xo

    Shari
  • What a timely post and a beautiful one! I just got a new cookbook about cooking with flowers and I've been amazed just reading the recipes. Havent tried any yet but need to. Beautiful images, Heidi!

    Averie @ Averie Cooks
  • did you see the pickled rose petal recipe in the may MSLiving? it seemed almost absurd ... and almost addictive. looked like a cinch to make, and wow, did it light up the look of a platter of grilled zucchini, doused in olive oil and mortared with feta.

    HS: Looking feverishly for last month's MSL.....

    molly
  • The sage and kale are blooming right now. Both are very good in salad, as are the chive blossoms.

    Susan Patton
  • i just tried my hand at drying and pickling cherry blossoms and leaves this year, and am now drying a batch of chamomile flowers! now thinking i might dry some lavenders too when they are around. but wish i could try and dry rose petals too - would love to try rose petal jam i'd see a lot in poland!

    HS: Hi Chika - you def. get some good blooms there. Maybe you could try with cherry blossoms or something more available in the summer there. Although the color on many of the rose petal jams is a complete knockout. xo!

    chika
  • I dry my flowers and whatnot on some old (clean) window screens. The increased circulation of air (since it can now get beneath them) tends to spped up the drying process.

    Anonymous
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