Edible flowers are a beautiful, playful addition to any garden. They are a fun way to add color and flavor to a multitude of dishes in the kitchen. Edible flowers are so easy to grow and nutritious too. There are plenty of gorgeous edible blooms out there. Below I have narrowed down the list to my top 6 for veggie gardens as well as some family-friendly culinary uses. The flowers in my Edible Flowers list below are more than just beauties. I choose a few that are resilient, deter pests and add color and flavor to cooking. Those listed below can grow in multiple seasons in moderate climates—I’m growing all of them in my California winter garden now. They are also kid approved favorites of my little ones.
The Earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A smaller variety of pansies (also edible), violas are a bite size burst of color that can be added to just about anything. These flowers have a mild lettuce-like flavor and can be a garnish to platters, smoothies or crystallized and used on cakes and cookies.
This hearty pest deterrent is a perfect border for vegetable gardens. The scent of marigolds keeps the aphids away and the blooms add a bright orange and yellow splash to the garden patch. Marigold flowers and leaves have a citrus taste, making them ideal for adding to salads, sandwiches and seafood dishes. The petals also make a delightful citrus tea when paired with a touch of orange and honey.
Perhaps the easiest edible flower to grow, this weed-like plant is best grown on borders and not in the veggie beds themselves. The fresh leaves and flowers have a peppery flavor similar to watercress. The flowers will add a spicy touch to salads and the green seeds can be chopped and used with parsley as a garnish or made into capers. Try them combining the petals with cream cheese or butter for a pretty spread. Nasturtium leaves are also delicious as a stir fry or added to pesto.
There are many ways to use lavender flowers, both in sweet or savory dishes. Children love to make delicious lavender sugar or honey by simply steeping two full lavender sprigs overnight. Lavender can also be added add to biscuits, sorbets, granola or jam recipes.
There are many varieties of mint, including chocolate and orange. Mint flowers add add a wide array of flavor to beverages (ice tea & lemonade) and are very refreshing tossed in fruit salads. One of our family favorites is a healthy mint-chip smoothie using chocolate mint (simply blend equal parts ice, spinach & almond milk with two sprigs of chocolate mint and top with chocolate chips)!
The full blooms will add zest to your meal by adding bright splashes of color, while the young leaves can be added to salads or granola. These tasty flowers have a bit of a mango flavor and are a stunning addition to fruit dishes. Please note, only cosmos sulphureus are edible.
More than just a pretty addition to meals, edible blooms are full of nutritional benefits. For example marigolds, nasturtiums and violas are rich in Vitamins A and C and their greens are high in calcium, iron and phosphorous. And don’t forget those broccoli and herb blooms that you let go too long in the garden! They have many of the same benefits as the vegetables or herb and are stunning! Many of the common herb flowers, such as basil, borage, rosemary, dill, oregano and thyme have the same flavor and medicinal value as the leaves, but are very mild in flavor. Herb flowers are delicious with honey in tea. Mint is also known for calming the stomach and aiding digestion. Chamomile flowers, another pretty edible and common tea, are mild enough for kids and anti-inflammatory.
As you can see flowers can be fun and healthy to eat. They will certainly have kids trying new recipes and eating their veggies. It is also a good garden activity for them.
Please remember that not all flowers are edible and always refer to the full list of edible flowers before enjoying delicious blooms!
Image featured from @littleurban.farmers
Shannon Porter @littleurban.farmersI believe in getting our hands dirty and living seasonally off our land. Gardening is so much fun, a great way for children to put their busy hands to work and fall in love with nature! I have a Master’s in Agriculture and have implemented several school gardening programs throughout Los Angeles. My children are my greatest teachers in the garden. You can find me as an Urban Gardeners Republic Garden Advisor in Los Angeles."Do your little bit of goodness where you are; it's those little bits put together that overwhelm the world." -Desmond Tutu
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