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Cooking with Flowers

Presentation makes the meal more enjoyable – and even tastier. Using fresh flowers as a garnish is one way to make a great presentation at meal time – but have you ever tried including flowers as an edible part of a dish? Many flowers are downright delicious, as well as beautiful.

Enthuse your guests and encourage your own creativity by trying them at your next meal.


What are the Basic Rules of Cooking with Flowers?

While many flowers are edible, many are also poisonous. Therefore the first rule of cooking with flowers is to positively identify any flower you’re using.

You can usually trust a nursery’s label, but you may be able to identify some flowers online or through a flower guide. Some higher-end grocery stories also carry edible flowers in the produce section.

Cooking with Flowers


Quality Counts

As with all cooking ingredients, flower quality counts. Look for the freshest flowers you can find, and make sure chemicals were not used to fertilize or otherwise treat them. Flowers from a florist or bouquet seller aren’t appropriate because they are often sprayed with chemicals to make them last longer in a vase.

Flowers that were recently purchased from a nursery should be repotted in chemical free soil. Wait at least three weeks before using the flowers in your cooking.

Quality Counts


How to Prepare Flowers for Cooking?

If you’re snipping flowers from your own plants, it’s wise to know the best way to do this. For example, roses rebloom more frequently if you cut just above a five-leaflet node.

Do not wash flowers before cooking, but do check for bugs. Insects can be brushed away.

If your recipe doesn’t call for flowers, you’ll have to experiment a little. Taste the flower to determine what flavors might compliment it. Below, you’ll find some general suggestions.

In almost all cases, only the petals of the flowers are safe to eat.



Ideas for Cooking with Flowers

All alliums are edible and vary in flavor from onion-like to strongly tasting and smelling of garlic. The leaves are also edible, but are milder in flavor. Alliums are a good addition to salads, soups, and atop vegetables.

Some bee balm tastes somewhat like oregano; some is more minty. Use the flowers atop vegetables, in salads, or on chicken.


How to Cook with Borage?

Borage petals are a good addition to meat rubs and salads.

Cooking with Borage


How to Cook with Calendula?

Calendula makes a nice add-on to soups, if it’s petals are dried first.

Cooking with Calendula 


How to Cook with Carnation?

Carnation petals are sweet. Use them for decorating a cake or inside other baked desserts. Carnations also have a long history in wine and liqueurs; the French have used it in Chartreuse since the 17th century. Dianthus is a miniature carnation and has a nutmeg-like scent. Use the petals for salads.

Cooking with Carnation


How to Cook with Lavender?

Lavender is sweet, with a bit of a lemon or citrus flavor. It’s a great cake decoration, and is sometimes seen in glasses of champagne, or as an ice cream garnish. Lavender also works will in wine-based sauces and in stews.

Cooking with Lavender


How to Cook with Nasturtiums?

Nasturtiums are somewhat peppery. They are often seen in salads, herb butters, and in some sandwiches.

Cooking with Nasturtiums


How to Cook with Pansies?

Pansies (and their cousins violas and Johnny-Jump-Ups) are often placed in a food processor and then mixed with sugar. Use the resulting mixture for sprinkling atop baked goods or for a unique syrup.

Cooking with Pansies 


How to Cook with Peonies?

Peonies are traditionally used in salads or in drinks like lemonade.

Cooking with Peonies


How to Cook with Roses?

Roses (particularly the old fashioned kind) are also often ground and mixed with sugar.

Cooking with Roses


How to Cook with Sunflower?

Sunflower buds may be steamed and eaten like artichokes.

Cooking with Sunflower


Check out the video version of this article on YouTube : Cooking with Flowers

Cooking with Flowers


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