There's something really exciting about eating flowers. Maybe it's because they're so intricately beautiful, or because it's not usually something you find at a restaurant or the grocery store. Even the farmers market rarely sells edible flowers. I have to say I feel rather special when I have space to garden. And with edible flowers I can have my pretty flower and eat it too! So here is what's on the menu today:
Calendula is in the sunflower family and is also called "pot marigold". I love to pick all the petals off and sprinkle them on salad like yellow (or orange) confetti. They have a fresh crunchy taste with slight bitterness, very reminiscent of mild lettuce.
Violets and Pansies
Pansies and Violets are all edible members of the genus Viola. The ones shown above in my garden have a mild flowery sweetness to them, almost like a rose.
Another sunflower family relative, these are in the genus Bellis and have a flavor almost like celery with a mild bitterness.
Dianthus is a genus in the Carnation family and has a surprisingly sweet and bitter flavor that makes your tongue tingle almost as if each taste bud is saying "it's sweet! not it's bitter! sweet! bitter!"
I love nasturtiums (NESS-ter-SHUMS), both the flowers and the leaves have a thrilling sharp bitterness to them and the seeds can be pickled to make capers!
Here's a flower I hope most people have had. Stuffed squash blossoms can be a popular seasonal dish. Squash make two different kinds of flowers; male and female. The female ones make squash when they receive pollen from the male flowers. So be careful to only eat the male flowers if you want to get any squash. (Look for the powdery yellow pollen inside the males)
B. oleracea could be anything from cabbage and brussel sprouts to broccoli, mustard, and bok choi. The flowers can be diverse, though they all have four petals which won them their original name of Cruciforms. They're colorful and have a mild flavor.
Cilantro flowers make coriander when they go to seed, but the flowers are incredibly flavorful also. I swear the flavor is half way between coriander and cilantro - super yummy!
Borage has a mild flower that is a beautiful addition to any salad. UV radiation from the sun causes these flowers to turn from blue to purple to pink.
Some other flowers to note that have already bloomed and died this year: most herbs (i.e. sage, rosemary, thyme...), onions/chives, and peas.