Edible Flowers: Next Level Garden to Table
One of the most exciting things about managing gardens at the Dallas Arboretum is the variety of plants we grow. One of my favorites to talk about is Edible flowers. They are just so cool. Whether sprinkled on a salad, incorporated into a cocktail or ice cubes, or candied for a cake, flower petals bring and exciting flair of the garden to any moment and add some seasonal style. We work with our visiting chefs in A Tasteful Place to find delicious opportunities to integrate flowers from our own gardens into the dishes our guests taste there, and you can integrate them into your own cooking as well!
The Basics of Edible Flowers
Always use flowers that have not been exposed to any chemicals. To keep flowers fresh, place them on moist paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. Some flowers will last up to 10 days this way. If you miss your window and they get wilted and limp, you can soak them in ice water for several minutes to revitalize.
Edible Flowers to Try
Here are four of my favorites that are fun and easy to use.
The good-old common daylily is not only edible, but down right delicious. The proper name for this edible flower is Hemerocallis fulva. Any other plant with the word “lily” in the name should not be the menu.
The daylily is native to the eastern United States, and people here have used it as a food source for centuries. The fully-opened flowers can be used in salads and as a garnish, but the best way to enjoy this beauty is to consume the unopened flower bud. It tastes like a spicy, sweet green bean. In fact, you can harvest a bowl of unopened buds and cook them just as you would fresh green beans. Those daylilies just sitting there out in your front yard could be surprisingly delicious dinner.
Squash blossoms are amazing and are prepared as a culinary delicacy in several different cultures. Zucchini blossoms used most often, but other types are good to as well. Fried or baked, squash blossoms are so good. There’s many recipes available online.
Pansies and Violas
Pansies and violas are the most colorful edible flowers out there. They have a mild, somewhat minty flavor that works will in salads, garnishes and all sorts of desserts. Pansies are the main flower used throughout Dallas during the holiday season, meaning that you can probably step outside and harvest away during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In my opinion, Troaeolum majus have the most flavor of all edible flowers. They add a spicy kick to just about anything and are loaded with Vitamin C. I especially like to add them to a fresh tossed salad.
People have been eating these delicious flowers for thousands of years, and now you’re armed with the knowledge to learn from history and surprise your guests, and your taste buds, with flowery and delicious flavors right out of history.