Dining from the garden is a magical experience that takes us closer to nature and gives us a literal taste of our local surroundings. We don’t have to limit ourselves to the green veggies and the sweet fruits, however tasty they may be. Flowers that spring up in the garden are just as edible! Edible wildflowers make for a stunning garnish on many seasonal foods, and they can add a delicate flavor when used in our spring recipes. Here are four common wildflowers you can eat, as well as some you'd be wise to avoid.
In her book Cooking From the Garden, gardening expert Rosalind Creasy explains the joys of cooking with edible flowers, whether you grow them in your own garden or have a reputable source for foraging them. Here are four common edible flowers that you already have growing in your garden (or neighborhood), that you may just want to add to your dinner menu this season.
This annual herb is so prolific that it often becomes a “weed,” even when intentionally planted in your own herb garden! As a green herb, the young leaves are also edible, but it’s the beautiful deep-blue flowers that you’re after here. The flowers have a cucumber-like flavor and are great in any recipe you’d expect to find cukes—in green salads, egg dishes and herb-infused cocktails. They’re a wonderful decorative touch over any summer drink, casserole or baked goodie.
Also known as “pot marigold,” these vibrant flowers grow in hues of bright gold, yellow and apricot. Use them throughout the summer in recipes that complement their bright, tangy flavor—dishes with cheeses, vinaigrettes and soft cooked grains. Best yet, the petals hold up well being dried out—so dry them now and save them to use as decorative, burnt orange garnishes for Thanksgiving and the fall season.
Part of the onion family, chives are a delicious addition to any spring/summer garden. And the flowers they bud are just lovely—a light lavender, violet shade. The flowers have a very mild chive flavor to them, so use them as you would a light touch of chives—on summer soups, with picnic salads, over fresh sandwiches and in egg dishes.
Roses taste as divine as they smell—and often just as strong, as well! Remove the bottom white part of the flowers, which can be quite bitter, and you’ll have an insanely aromatic flower to use in all sorts of kitchen applications. Roses are heavenly infused into cocktails, or made into rose water, or used in jellies and pan sauces. They’re also a delight to candy and use the crystallized flowers as sweet treat garnishes.
Wildflowers to Avoid
As with herbs and mushrooms, you should take caution when selecting wildflowers to eat, especially if you’re foraging them in the wild. Always know what you’re eating, and make sure it’s coming from non-polluted, preferably organic soil. There are a number of wildflowers that, whether coming from a trusted source or not, should not be consumed by humans. Creasy points out a number of flowers that are poisonous, and among the most common we encounter in our summer garden adventures, look out for the following:
- Belladonna lily