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42 Flowers You Can Eat

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42 Flowers You Can Eat

The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years to the Chinese, Greek and Romans. Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking–think of squash blossoms in Italian food and rose petals in Indian food. Adding flowers to your food can be a nice way to add color, flavor, and a little whimsy. Some are spicy, and some herbacious, while others are floral and fragrant. The range is pretty surprising.

It’s not uncommon to see flower petals used in salads, teas, and as garnish for desserts, but they inspire creative uses as well–roll spicy ones (like chive blossoms) into handmade pasta dough, incorporate floral ones into homemade ice cream, pickle flower buds (like nasturtium) to make ersatz capers, use them to make a floral simple syrup for use in lemonade or cocktails. (See a recipe for Dandelion Syrup here.) I once stuffed gladiolus following a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms–a little out-there, I know, but they were great. So many possibilities…

Eating Flowers Safely
So. As lovely as eating flowers can be, it can also be a little…deadly! Not to scare you off or anything. Follow these tips for eating flowers safely.

  • Eat flowers you know to be consumable–if you are uncertain, consult a reference book on edible flowers and plants.
  • Eat flowers you have grown yourself, or know to be safe for consumption. Flowers from the florist or nursery have probably been treated with pesticide or other chemicals.
  • Do not eat roadside flowers or those picked in public parks. Both may have been treated with pesticide or herbicide, and roadside flowers may be polluted by car exhaust
  • Eat just the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating.
  • If you suffer from allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may exacerbate allergies.
  • To keep flowers fresh, place them on moist paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. Some will last up to 10 days this way.  Ice water can revitalize limp flowers.

Related: How to Make Candied Flowers

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Read more: Basics, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Lawns & Gardens,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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True Food: Eight Simple Steps to a Healthier You

How to shop, prepare, eat and enjoy food in ways healthy for your body and the planet.buy now

159 comments

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11:20PM PDT on May 8, 2013

Always check to see if they are edible! Nasturtiums are so nice to float them on a plate or put in a salad! All these will draw butterflies and birds and bees! Thank You

1:59AM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Thanks

1:33PM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

WOW i never knew there were so many...thanks very much for the great info.

1:15PM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

dzięki

11:11AM PST on Jan 26, 2013

Interesting and informative.

3:25PM PDT on May 27, 2012

This article reminds me of my dad always saying that he'd rather plant something he could eat instead of flowers lol

5:20PM PDT on May 24, 2012

thanks

7:01PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Jasmine is toxic in bigger amount-- stop by 5! Red Clover and clover contains plant hormones, that can bring disorder to male and female fertility. Chrysantemes make allergies, are a little toxic. But what about roses petals? Thats great with sugar for decoration or in green salads or in tea. Be sure there are no pesticides used on the flowers you eat..

1:27AM PDT on May 2, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

10:41AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

.Interesting, thank you for sharing :))

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