Edible flowers make the perfect garnish on many meals, including desserts and cocktails! We have prepared our favourite edible flowers and a guide on how to pair them with your ingredients.
A bean blossom is a small, decorative purple flower with crispiness at its core and has a sweet bean-like flavour. Bean Blossoms combine well with a number of dishes, including fish or poultry, dishes made with fruits and herbs, summer vegetables and desserts/chocolate. This shows that the bean blossom combines well with a whole range of dishes. Also, because it is grown clean and hygienically, it is ready to use.
Lavender flowers have a slightly bitter flavour that can be used to sweeten dishes. It’s quite amazing what you can do with lavender flowers, as it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Fancy a fantastic addition to jams, jellies or biscuits? You can make a delicious lavender sugar. Fancy a tasty sauce to complement a duck, chicken or lamb dish? You can add flowers to vegetable stock to lend a bit of sweetness to your sauce.
You can use rose petals and hips to add to your food. Petals have a delicate flavour as it is made up of 95% water (thus, low calorie count!) and can act as additional refreshment in cold drinks and fruit dishes. You can also use rose petals to make beautiful rose petal jam. Rose hips contain 0.5% to 1.7% vitamin C, making it one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin C. The flavour is quirky but fragrant and can be used in a variety of ways including flavouring and condiments. You can also add rose petals and hips to your jelly to add flavour.
Borages are an annual herb that has thick soft stems and large leaves. The petals have a cucumber taste, a hint of sweetness added from the stamen and a mild wintergreen taste from miniature pansies. Borages are excellent for adding flavour into fruit and vegetable salads as well as garnishing soups and decorating desserts. The seeds are a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid. This oil helps control the hormonal systems and lowers blood pressure for improved health.
A nasturtium is a fast growing plant with round leaves and comes in an orange, yellow or red colour. These flowers have a peppery flavour similar to watercress and can be used as a spicy touch or garnish to a range of dishes. Namely, the flowers can add a spicy touch to salads,cream cheese or butter in canapés and cheese and tomato sandwiches. If you wish to garnish steaks or casseroles with nasturtiums, it is a great choice as the flower adds great flavour to the dish. Nasturtiums’ pickled buds can be substituted for capers, which are more expensive. For more recipe ideas see our blog Using Nasturtiams In The Kitchen.
Calendulas are known by their large flower heads which are 5-7cm in diameter. Calendula blossoms are peppery, tangy and spicy, in addition to its vibrant golden colour. As a result, the Calendula blossom is sure to be a positive addition to your dish from both a taste and appearance perspective. Calendula adds great flavour to salads and soups, and is often used as a substitute for saffron.
Cornflower is a beautiful annual plant, known for having heads of blue, purple, pink or white. These flowers have a sweet-to-spicy clove-like flavour. If you wish to mix multiple flowers to sprinkle over a salad or pasta, cornflower is great to use as they help in making attractive confetti. Also, depending on your preference, you can use cornflower on its own as a colourful garnish.
Commonly known as Dianthus, carnations come in numerous colours. Carnations are ideal for decorating cakes and most dianthus has a pleasant spicy, floral and clove-like taste. In addition to cakes, carnations make a colourful garnish to soups, ice cream, fruit salads and stir fries. Be sure to remove the white heel at the base of the petal as it has a bitter taste.
Marigolds are beautiful, tall, growing plants that reach up to three feet in height. If you fancy a hit of citrus flavour, this is the ideal flower. Both the flowers and leaves have a citrus taste, making it ideal for adding to sandwiches, seafood or hot desserts. Marigolds can be served as petals or leaves, raw or blanched, fresh or dry and sweet or savoury.
Geraniums are a fantastic option to use in preparing food as they come in a large range of flavours including apple, thyme, lime, mint and lemon. The great thing about Geraniums is that you can choose the appropriate flower flavour to compliment the food you are preparing! You can add these flowers to ice creams and desserts as well as stews and sauces for extra flavour.
Rosemary is a fantastic addition to poultry such as chicken and pork. This is because rosemary has that little bit of sweetness which can give your dish that extra dimension in flavour. Also, rosemary is sure to add a bit of colour to your dish. Just imagine a beautifully roasted chicken with a hint of rosemary for that extra sweetness and colour. Super!
Some extra tips and hints:
• Make sure the flower you use compliments the dish you are preparing.
• Freeze edible flowers into ice cubes for a stunning and colourful addition to beverages.
• Using crystallised flowers to decorate cakes and fine candies is very popular.
• Only use edible flowers as a garnish for your food. Assume that if guests find a flower on a plate of food, they will believe it is edible.
• Use flowers in small amounts to begin with if you are prone to allergies.
We'd love for you to tell us what you use flowers in.
N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.