As exclusively provincial as it sounds, foraging in the garden for edible flowers isn't hard. Here's how to incorporate fresh blooms into your meals for a delicious and unexpected touch.

Zee Krstic
September 14, 2017

Edible flowers are an exotic addition that can elevate even the most basic cuisine and make it feel special. Given that the highly-seasonal ingredient usually only appears at fancy restaurants, you may feel inclined to shy away from bringing in any flowers outside of a vase into your kitchen. But why should restaurants have all the fun when you can easily use edible flowers at home?

You don't need a special degree to use florals in the kitchen  – especially when that added touch can take your dish to the next level. If you're predisposed to thinking that flowers taste like dirt, you'll be surprised to learn there are varieties that can be transformative in salads, soups, cocktails, and even desserts.

You may ask: which flowers are safe to eat? Carnations, chrysanthemums, dandelions, hibiscus, marigolds, roses, violets, and even sunflower buds and petals can be widely and easily used in many different dishes.

There are a few poisonous flowers you should definitely stay away from – the most common varieties include calla lilies, azaleas, daffodils, and hydrangeas. 

You should also note that you can't just hop over to a florist and pick these up – to be safe to eat, flowers must grow organically without the use of pesticides. Be sure to ask your seller how the flowers were grown and if they're safe to eat –artisans and independent farmers selling at farmer's markets are probably your best bet. Even better? Pick them from your own backyard.

Here are some wholesome, easy flowers to add to your home kitchen arsenal: 

1) Artful Floral Salads

It's as easy as arranging your favorite greens in a spacious bowl and dressing them up with key ingredients – like a fresh handful of marigold leaves. 

2) Wild Roses and Anise Hyssop

Did you know that wild roses have a more subdued fragrance than their traditional counterpart, but taste just as sweet? Anise buds are delicate and small but have a sweet licorice taste with just a tad of mint flavor. Combine the two for an amazing flavor profile.

3) Chive Flowers

Chive flowers are tangy and fresh like the stalk – they're delicate enough to add as a garnish, yet bold enough to deliver an unexpected spike of flavor.

4) Marigolds

Marigolds are a favorite in the edible flower department as they taste slightly peppery and add a beautiful pop of color to any plate.

5) Gardenia Petals

Eaten raw, these gorgeously pure flower petals are as surprisingly sweet in flavor as they are in fragrance. 

6) Frozen Florals

You can incorporate flora into beverages, too. Start with silicone ice molds and add various flowers into the liquid of your choice before freezing – they'll make for an amazingly festive cocktail. 

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