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A Celebration of Summer - Edible Flowers for Colourful Cooking

Few things say "gourmet" like a sprinkling of colourful flower petals in a salad, a tiny bouquet of violets on a cupcake, lavender in a scone or a chopped garlic flowers in your potato salad do. Edible flowers are a fun and easy way to add colour and flavour to all sorts of dishes — especially when you can pick them fresh right from your own garden.

Most edible flowers are best eaten raw—simply pick, lightly rinse with water and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Flowers will taste and look their best right after they have opened, rather than after they have been open for a few days, so plan your dishes ahead so you can catch your flowers at the perfect moment for picking.

Edible flowers tips and hints

Edible flowers as a garnish make any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavour of the flower compliments the dish. Here are a few ideas to beautify your recipes and perk up your taste buds:

• Place a colourful gladiolus or hibiscus flower (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favourite dip.

• Sprinkle edible flowers in your green salads for a splash of colour and taste.

• Freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes for a pretty addition to punches and other beverages.

• Use in flavoured oils, vinaigrettes, jellies, and marinades.

• One of the most popular uses is candied or crystallized flowers, used to decorate cakes and fine candies.

Rules for Edible Flowers

• Not all flowers are edible. Some are poisonous. Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible.

DO NOT eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centres because they have probably been sprayed. Eat only from flowers that have been grown organically without sprays.

• Asthmatics or others who suffer allergic reactions to composite-type flowers (calendula, chicory, chrysanthemum, daisy, English daisy, and marigold) should be on alert for possible allergic reaction.

• Never use non-edible flowers as a garnish. You must assume that if guests find a flower on a plate of food, they will think it edible.

• Use flowers sparingly in your recipes, particularly if you are not accustomed to eating them. Too much of a pretty thing can lead to digestive problems.

• If you are prone to allergies, introduce flowers in small amounts so you can judge their effect. Some have a much more pronounced flavour than others, so you'll need to judge accordingly.

• Children under the age of 4 should not eat edible flowers because of possible reactions.

• Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Eat only the petals.

• Do not eat flowers picked from the side of a road. Besides exhaust emissions on the

plants, you don’t know whose dog was there before you!

Edible Flowers - below are just some of the flowers that work well in cooking and as garnishes

Angelica Anise hyssop Apple Blossom

Basil Bee balm Borage

Calendula Chamomile Chrysanthemum

Chives Cornflower Daylily buds

Dianthus Dandelion Johnny jump-ups

Gladiolus Hibiscus Honeysuckle

Lavender Lilac Marigold (Signet/Tagates)

Mallow Mint Nasturtium

Pansies Carnation Elderflower

Roses Rosemary Garlic Flowers

Sage Red Clover Scented geraniums

Sunflower Thyme Squash blossoms

Tulips Violas Violets (not African violets)

Inedible Flowers - there are many flowers that are best not ingested and below are just a few of these. Always do your research before ingesting any plant to ensure they are safe to eat,

Azalea Boxwood Burning Bush

Caladium Clematis Cosmos

Daffodil Delphinium Elephant ears

Four o’clocks Foxglove Hyacinth

Hydrangea Iris Ivy (English Ivy)

Lantana Lily of the Valley Jack in the pulpit

Lobelia Morning glory Mountain laurel

Nicotiana Periwinkle Rhododendron

Privet Sweet pea Wisteria

Edible Flower Cooking Basics Recipes

Candied Flowers

1 egg white (please use powdered egg whites to avoid salmonella)


Superfine granulated sugar

Thin artist's paintbrush

Violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea, pinks, scented geraniums

Wire rack

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add a couple of drops of vodka to help the flowers dry quicker. Using fresh picked flowers, paint each flower individually with beaten egg white using the artist's paintbrush. When thoroughly coated, sprinkle with fine sugar and place on the wire rack to dry. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the touch. They can be stored in an airtight container and put in the freezer for up to a year. A simple bakery cake can be turned into a work of art by garnishing with candied flowers. Will last approximately 6 months.

Flower Butter

1/2 - 1 cup chopped fresh or dried petals

1 lb. sweet unsalted butter

Finely chop flower petals and mix into softened butter. Let mix stand for several hours at room temperature, then refrigerate for several days to bring out the flavour. Can be frozen for several months. Wonderful on breads or used in sugar cookie or pound cake recipes.

Flower Honey

1/2 - 1 cup fresh or dried petals

1 lb. honey

Add chopped or crushed flowers to honey. Loosely cover jar and place in a pan half full of gently boiling water. Remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove jar from water and let cool to room temperature. Allow jar of honey with flowers to sit for 1 week. Flowers can then be strained out if desired. Will last indefinitely in a cool dark place. Uses: in tea and salad dressings, or on croissants, scones, muffins and bread.

Flower Jelly

2 ½ cups apple juice OR white wine

1 cup fresh rose petals or scented geranium flowers and leaves

4 cups sugar

1/4 lemon juice

1 - 2 drops food colouring (optional)

3 ounces of liquid pectin

Fresh flower petals (optional)

Bring juice or wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and steep until liquid has cooled, then strain out flowers leaving only liquid. Combine 2 cups of this flower infusion with sugar, lemon juice and food colouring. Bring to a boil over high heat and as soon as the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin. Return to a rolling boil, stirring, and boiling for exactly 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let jelly cool slightly and add more flower petals (if desired), then pour into sterilized jars. If petals do not stay suspended, stir jelly as it cools until petals stay in place. Process in hot water bath or seal with paraffin. Yields: 4 - 5 half pints

Flower Oil

1/2 to1 cup fresh or dried flowers

1 liter vegetable oil

Add flowers to bottle of oil and place in a pan of water. Simmer water with bottle in it gently for at least 30 minutes. Remove from stove and cool. Cover bottle tightly, and let steep a week before using. If dried flowers are used, they may be left in the oil. Fresh flowers should be drained after one week as they lose their colour.

Uses: In salad dressings, marinades, hot pasta or stir-frying. Nasturtium and herb blossom oils are excellent for sautéing. Rose and carnation oils make nice salad dressings.

Flower Syrups

Recipe # 1

1 cup water (or flower water)

2 cups sugar

1 cup flower petals, whole or crushed

Recipe #2

1 cup water (or flower water)

1 cup honey

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flower petals, whole or crushed

Recipe #3

1 cup water (or flower water)

1 cups agave nectar

1 cup flower petals, whole or crushed

Gently boil all ingredients for 10 minutes, or until thickened into syrup. Strain through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Can be added to sparkling water or champagne for a delicious beverage. Or, it may be poured over fruit, pound cake or pancakes.

Floral Liqueur

4 cups vodka or brandy

1 cup sugar

1 - 2 cups flowers

Place lightly bruised petals in a jar with vodka or brandy and steep for 2 days. Then, add sugar and steep for 2 weeks, shaking vigorously once or twice a day to let sugar dissolve. Strain and filter into clean decanter.

Recipes to Dazzle Family & Friends With

Fried Dandelion Blossoms (taste like deep fried mushrooms!)

New dandelion blossoms on short stems

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

Pinch of pepper

Pinch garlic powder (optional)

Hot cooking oil

Pick new dandelion blossoms, those on short stems, and rinse well in cool, lightly salted water.

Cut off the stem ends close to the flower heads, leaving only enough to hold the petals together, because the stems and greenery are bitter. Roll the dandelion flowers in paper towels to blot up the excess moisture. Combine the egg with the milk then add the dry ingredients. Dip the blossoms in the batter. Drop the batter-coated blossoms into deep hot cooking oil (375°F) and fry until lightly browned.

Drain on absorbent paper; Sprinkle with more salt, if needed, and serve at once as a hot hors d'oeuvres.

Cucumber Soup with Borage

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

5 scallions, chopped

Large handful of borage leaves

1 1/3 cup cold chicken stock or consommé

1 ¼ cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

2/3 cup heavy cream or crème fraiche

Pinch cayenne

Salt & pepper

A few drops of lemon juice

Borage flowers to garnish

Blend together the cucumbers, scallions and most of the borage leaves to make a puree. Add a ladleful or two of the stock to thin the mixture and blend again. Transfer to a serving tureen. Whisk together the rest of the stock with yogurt & cream and mix into cucumber puree. Season with cayenne, salt, pepper and lemon juice and then thoroughly chill. To serve, garnish with chopped leaves and borage flowers.

Sunflower Pasta Salad

2 chicken breasts (Optional)

1 cup of bottled Italian dressing

1 cup of bottled teriyaki marinade

1 cup toasted hulled sunflower seeds

6 shredded fresh basil leaves

Petals from 2 sunflowers

1 lb. linguini or fettuccini

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken with the cup marinade. Let stand turning occasionally for 20-30 minutes. Place them in a baking dish and broil 3-4 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut the chicken into 1-inch strips and set aside in refrigerator.

In a large pan filled with lightly salted boiling water, cook pasta. Drain well and rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with teriyaki marinade and Italian dressing. Add sunflower seeds. Steam sunflower petals for 2 minutes then remove from heat.

Combine basil leaves, chicken strips and pasta. Mound on a platter and add sunflower petals on top. Chill thoroughly before serving. Serves 4-6

Shrimp Pasta with Edible Flowers

1 lb Bow Tie Pasta

3 fish bouillon cubes dissolved or canned fish broth or your own broth

1 lb of salad-size cooked shrimp (or more to your taste)

2 cups flowers and leaves, rinsed and torn loosely

1 jar of Alfredo Sauce or your own Alfredo sauce

1/3 cup of heavy cream

Substitute all or part of the water required to cook the pasta with the bouillon cubes dissolved or fish broth. While pasta is cooking, heat Alfredo sauce diluted with the heavy cream. Keep warm.

Place the shrimp in a bowl and drain part of the pasta into the bowl to reheat the shrimp. Let sit 5 minutes then drain completely and toss shrimp and pasta. Add nasturtiums then pour sauce over pasta and toss. Serves 4-6.

Cheese and Basil Flower Omelette

4 Eggs

4 Tbsp Milk

Salt and Pepper

50g/2oz Grated Cheese, e.g. Cheddar

3 tbsp Butter

4 tbsp Basil Flowers (Blossom), washed and dried

Place the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, beat well then stir in the cheese. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and when hot, pour in the egg mixture. Leave for 1 minute, and then stir with the flat part of a fork 2-3 times. Reduce heat to medium-low. With a palette knife, lift the far edge of the omelette and tilt the pan so that the raw egg runs on to the base. As soon as the omelette is set and golden underneath but still very moist on top, sprinkle with the basil flowers, cook for a further minute, then fold the omelette in half and leave over a low heat for about 2 minutes. Serves 2.

Beef with Calendula Petals

1 Large Onion

1 Large Carrot

2 Sticks Celery

1 Large Green Pepper

1 Head Florence Fennel

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1kg/2lb Stewing Beef


300ml/10fl.oz. Beef Stock

150ml/5 fl.oz. Red wine

1 tbsp Tomato Paste

Salt and Black pepper

1 Orange

1 Bay Leaf

3 Sprigs Thyme

6 Sage Leaves

4 Sprigs Parsley

Calendula Petals to garnish

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Clean all the vegetables and cut them into matchsticks. Heat the butter and oil in flameproof casserole and brown the vegetables lightly. Cut the meat into rectangles about 5cm/2inches by 2.5cm/l inch, quite thinly. Toss in flour which has been well seasoned with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Stir around until browned. Add the stock and wine together with the tomato puree and stir until blended. Add the juice of the orange, a small slice of the peel, salt and pepper. Cover the pan, and cook in the oven for 2 hours, or until tender. Add the herbs 30 minutes before the end of cooking.

To serve - turn into a warmed serving dish and garnish with calendula petals.

Golden Corn Muffins with Calendula Petals

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

¾ cup unbleached flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 extra-large eggs

1 cup milk

3 Tbsp oil

¾ cup grated cheddar

1 cup corn kernels

¼ cup calendula petals

Butter a muffin tin and preheat oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk and oil, blending well. Stir the cheese and corn into the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and blend. Stir the calendula petals into the batter. Fill the muffin tins almost full, dividing the batter evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes, remove the muffins from the tin, and serve warm with or without butter or molasses. Makes one dozen large muffins.

Nasturtium Capers

5 tsp salt

7 oz nasturtium seed pods

2 bay leaves

2.5 cup white/rice wine vinegar

Add the salt to 2.5 cups distilled or bottled water. Stir to dissolve. Rinse and drain the seed pods, then add them to the brine. Allow to stand 24 hours at room temperature.

Drain and dry the pods well. Pack into sterilized small jars, add the bay leaves (and/or other aromatics, if using). Leave about half an inch of headroom, then top with vinegar. Seal with vinegar-proof lids and leave in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks.

To use strew the “capers” in salads, use them in tartar sauce, make compound butters, season tapenade with them.

Creamy Almond Stuffed Nasturtiums

1 cup Superfine Sugar

8oz Cream cheese

A couple of drops of Almond Extract

75g/3oz Blanched Almonds, finely chopped and toasted.

½ cup Whipping Cream

20 Nasturtium Flowers, gently washed and dried

Place the sugar, cream cheese and almond extract in a large mixing bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended. In another bowl, whisk the cream until quite stiff then fold it into the cheese mixture together with the toasted almonds. Taste for flavour, adding more sugar or almond extract if desired.

Stuff the nasturtium flowers with the mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Anise Hyssop Flower Drop Cookies

1/2 cup anise hyssop flowers; chopped

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Beat eggs until thick and lemon coloured. Add sugar and flower petals and beat 5 minutes. Add vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt to egg mixture. Continue beating 5 minutes more. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, spacing well apart as these spread. Bake at 325°F for 12 to 15 minutes.

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