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

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Edible Flowers

5 from 3 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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Comments

I stumbled on a lovely edible flower shop in Montreal last weekend that gave me so many good ideas: http://epiceriefleur.com/

Shaun

I love Magdalen's idea with the honeysuckle! My neighbor's spills over my fence and I love the smell — have been wondering if I could use it in food. Does the sweetness stay once it's dried? Just made lavender salt – just ground lavender flowers and tossed in a jar with coarse salt, then let sit to infuse. A friend puts it on everything, from meat to chocolate cake. Going out to pick rose petals right now.

Claire at Plant & Plate

I recently received copies of one old and one new cookbook on cooking with flowers...'Cooking with Flowers' by Miche Bacher of Mali B. Sweets and 'The forgotten Art of Flower Cookery' by Leona Woodring Smith. I can't grow roses very well because of the amount of rain we receive but I do grow nasturtiums, geraniums, violas, squash, and use the blooms from several herbs. I usually don't dry them but use fresh.

Sonia (foodiesleuth)

Borage flowers. Flowers from kale, arugula , broccoli, all work.

Carol

What gorgeous photos! I love using edible flowers. Right now I am saving lilac petals for a batch of lilac wine. You can freeze them until you have enough. If you'd like to join me and try making lilac wine, you can start saving them and I'll be posting about the process next week.

Ariana {And Here We Are...}

Loving the flowers. I've been sweeting them up all spring, and it is high time I dive into the savory realm. That said, have you tried feijoa flowers? They are an oddly satisfying, fleshy, sweet and unintimidating blossom from the feijoa bush, aka, pineapple guava. They grow everywhere where I live. I could imagine you doing wonders with them in a shoot.

Amanda

You can microwave them to dry them, but they will get kinda stuck to the platter so this is best if you plan to make it into a dust or mix into a salt. Don't forget that a surprising amount of people have dehydrators--a post on facebook might have you loaned the equipment you need for a big batch. Go ahead and slice some tomatoes, strawberries, apricots or other fruits in half while you're at it and dry those too! :)

Caroline

Have you seen the recently released cookbook on cooking with flowers? I'm blanking on the name right now, but it's incredibly beautiful, and the recipes/ideas in it sound fabulous.

JoyofCooking

I like to dry jasmine and honeysuckle to add to loose chai for a lovely floral note. I just dry by laying them out on the windowsill on some waxed paper then storing in a paper bag until I'm ready to use them. I've tried using a dehydrator before but found it to produce dried flowers that smelled just a little big cooked.

Magdalen@FromHeartToTable

I want to dance in these photos... Heidi xo

Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

thanks for this post. i was looking for some fresh ideas and this really inspired me. just made some lavender simple syrup using dried buds and it was incredible for cocktails. great photos and tips. thanks again.

tom @ little island kitchen

Edible flowers are so lovely! As a little girl in France, I used to eat sweets made of violet flowers, they were small pastilles shaped like the flower. The smell and taste were just incredible. I also tasted tiny flowers recently with mussels cooked in a broth of apple cider, very flavoursome! I will keep the tips on drying the flower petals, might come in handy sometime.

Yolène @ Crème de Citron

Lovely as always! I just started a blog, and violets were one of the first things i decided to write about. So many things to do with edible flowers! They just add so much beauty to everything.

Bri

I had a courgette flower stuffed with manchego, lightly battered and fried, but then drizzled with some honey - I've never forgotten it! I love it when the chive flowers come out, and one year my thyme plant came out in little white flowers, that was beautiful on everything. I know sometimes rose petals make their way into harissa paste, but harissa is such a strong flavour, I've rarely felt the roses made much of a contribution. A friend of mine makes homemade butter with rose petals, gorgeous for a special tea time.

Erin

I love that this post was delivered to my inbox right after eating some hibiscus sorbet. So timely. Yum! Flowers!

Rosemary Hanson

I have an edible flower salt grinder that came in a set from Trader Joes. It was a Christmas present, and I haven't been sure what to do with it. It's the only I have that is still full.

Jenn

Love this Heidi! I just yesterday added this book to my Amazon wishlist. It looks interesting! http://amzn.to/13imxrP Have you come across this book?

HS: I haven't! Clearly I'm late to the party. xo

Emma Galloway

Thanks for all the tips. I was just trying to source some yesterday to make summer ice cubes with. This post helped a lot. xo Quinn Quinn Cooper Style

Quinn Cooper

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