Edible inspiration right under your nose
It’s no secret I have a passion for gardening and cooking, but I also love beautiful flowers—and most of the flowers growing in my garden are edible.
I started my edible flower garden journey 10 years ago in an effort to make it safe, fun and tasty for my children. Creating a sustainable yard that provides sustenance and inspiration to my family and supports pollinators was—and still is—my goal.
Including edible flowers on your plate adds different nutritional elements than other plants and provides a unique aesthetic appeal to any dish.
A common misconception is that flowers are only useful as pretty-but-flavourless garnish, but I beg to differ. If you’ve ever tried cheesy stuffed zucchini blossoms or a dish flavoured with lavender-scented herbes de Provence, you’ll know what I mean.
With their vibrant herbal and floral flavour, flowers can elevate any meal or drink. Edible flowers are grown (and foraged) commercially at places like Island Girl Organics in Sayward, but you might be surprised at how many of your own flowers are not only edible but also delicious!
Bright calendula, peppery nasturtiums and spicy arugula flowers are divine in salads (add some tangy goat cheese to make the flavour pop).
Lavender buds are deliciously evocative of France on roast pork or lamb, and hibiscus lends a unique tartness for drinks.
Borage flowers, with their mild cucumber essence, are fun when sandwiched between sheets of fresh pasta or frozen in ice cubes for unique cocktails.
Chamomile and bergamot flowers add a distinct flavour and aroma to black tea or tisane.
Many ornamental garden flowers are as delectable as they are pretty.
Violets, roses, dahlias and carnations are all wonderful in your favourite salad, stir fry or cocktail.
Gladiolus and hollyhocks have a mild lettuce-like flavour and can be stuffed like squash blossoms.
Unopened sunflowers can be steamed the same way as artichokes; opened sunflower petals can be used both fresh or cooked.
The whole tulip flower, stem and bulb are edible, and the large sweet-flavoured petals make a lovely base for small appetizers. (Tammy of the aforementioned Island Girl Organics recalls her grandfather’s memory of tulips being a staple of his diet during World War II when other food was scarce.)
Herbs produce wonderful aromatic flowers as the greenery passes its prime.
And don’t forget about the weeds! Dandelion petals are sweet and commonly made into wine, but they are also scrumptious fried into fritters or made into vegan honey.
I challenge you to step outside and see how many edible flowers you can find around you—and if you need me, I’ll be out in my garden at happy hour, gathering flowers for dinner.
*Note: When foraging for flowers, avoid any areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals and be sure to correctly identify edible flowers before eating. Remove the pistils and stamens of large flowers.
Here is a list of common edible flowers.
Always be sure to identify your flowers with 100% certainty before eating.
Honeysuckles (flowers only, not the berries that follow)
Pea blossoms (not Sweetpeas)
This story comes to us from Edible Vancouver Island.