Kosmic Guide To Edible Flowers
Who doesn't love eating flowers? From cakes to smoothie bowls to flatbreads, a bright pop of edible color is becoming a favorite everywhere you look. We've gotten so many questions lately about edible flowers and thought we'd share a quick guide to a few of our favorites blooming here in Northern California.
BUYING EDIBLE FLOWERS | If you don't have a garden or an herb box to grow your own, a lot of edible flowers can be found in the farmer's market or in the floral section of the grocery store. Its always fun to talk to farmers about what they're growing and how they use the plants, so don't be shy and ask questions. You might be surprised!
FORAGING | Another option for edible flowers is foraging. The best foraging, in my opinion, happens near the home in spaces you know well and are apart of tending to rather than just taking from. If you haven't done a lot of foraging or want to brush up on ethical foraging guidelines, check out this article from Learning Herbs.
STORAGE | If you plan on keeping your flowers for a few days, store in the fridge in an air tight container with a moist paper towel or cloth. This will help keep them fresh and vibrant for a few days at least.
Nasturtium Flowers + Leaves | (Tropaeolum majus) Probably the most well known edible flower, nasturtiums are a commonly found growing in many gardens across the world. Different varieties yield plants that tend to climb or seem more vine like, while others will fill out to look more like a low growing bush. The flowers can range in hue from deep red to variegated peach + yellow and the more commonly seen bright orange.
FLAVOR: They're spicy! A little kick of spicy mustard that's perfect for adding to savory dishes or sweet ones if you're looking for some contrast. I like to separate the petals so the flavor isn't as intense. The leaves also make nice additions to salads or for garnish and share the spicy flavor of the flowers.
Jasmine Flowers | (Jasminum officinale) I'm lucky enough to have a giant jasmine vine along the pathway to my door. Its cascading star shaped flowers and sweet perfume are a welcomed signal that summer is near. Make sure you're getting true jasmine, Jasminum officinale, rather than a cultivar that resembles jasmine, but is in fact another plant. In my research there seems to be some confusion about which are edible and which are not, so stick to the true jasmine.
FLAVOR: Flower, sweet + slightly astringent. I like to add just a few flowers for garnish since they are so intoxicating, so a little goes a long way. Another idea is to use the vine with the flowers as decoration for say a cake, rather than eating them.
Pea Flowers | (Pisum sativum) This year we planted a cover crop in our garden over the winter that mostly had legumes like fava beans and winter peas. I couldn't resist the deep purple and pink flower combo of the peas and used them for garnish. Make sure you're getting the vegetable pea flower, not the super sweet smelling sweet peas as those are toxic.
FLAVOR: Slightly floral but mostly tastes like a green pea. They are pretty green tasting and fun as a pop of color added to a salad.
Fava Bean Flowers | (Vicia faba) The real treat for fava plants, are the fresh fava beans that come just at the beginning of summer. The flowers are more for fun and when you're feeling impatient about your fava beans growing in. I've also used the leaves in pestos or in a quick sauté when I wanted a dose of fresh spring flavor.
FLAVOR: Their white flowers dotted with a black spot, make for an interesting but rather mild in flavor edible flower. Sprinkle over a dish for a bit of magic.
Mustard Flower + Tender Leaves | (Raphanus raphanistrum) Driving around in late spring + early summer, the side of the road is covered in bright yellow, pink + even purple mustard flowers. These are mostly considered 'wild weeds' though you might have a few volunteers popping up in your yard.
FLAVOR: These tiny flowers, have a mustard like flavor indicative of the brassica or broccoli family. They are rather mild and are a nice addition to savory dishes.
Forget-Me-Nots | (Myosotis arvensis) These tiny blue flowers, related to borage, are what I image garden fairies eat. They're like delicate blue dew drops that blanket the ground throughout the spring. You'll often find them in shady areas where there is moisture.
FLAVOR: Mildy floral and great to use on sweets for a delicate decoration.
Abutilons Flowers | (Abutilon pictum) As members of the mallow or Malvaceae family, these lantern shaped flowers are on the larger end of the edible flower spectrum. Often seen in hues of orange, red or yellow, abutilons are a fun addition to sweet and savory dishes.
FLAVOR: Slightly sweet + astringent. Since they can be so large, I like to separate the petals when mixing them into a dish. These go really well in citrus salads or as part of a larger decorative addition to cakes + sweets.
Miner's Lettuce | (Claytonia perfoliata) One of our favorite spring greens the pops up in shady moist areas is not only prolific, but delicious. You might even being seeing Miner's Lettuce on menus lately as its gaining popularity as an easy to find wild weed in California. Though not technically an 'edible flower,' it does create a tiny white flower before it goes to seed.
FLAVOR: Fresh, bright and slightly sour. Great as a raw addition to salads or as a garnish on savory dishes.
Pansy Flower | (Viola x wittrockiana or Viola tricolor) A classic edible flower that is almost to cute to eat. There are many variations of pansies---blue, yellow, purple, pink to name a few. Often you'll see pansies in desserts, but I love adding them to salads, flatbreads and savory dishes.
FLAVOR: Fresh tasting and mild. Their flavor makes them pretty easy to add to any dish you want to add a bit of flower power to.
Though this isn't a complete list of edible flowers, because they will vary from region to region, there are a few others I'd like to mention that are easy to find in the market or growing wild: snap dragons flowers, sage flowers + leaves, calendula, sour grass, sunflower petals, roses and chamomile flowers.
*Always make sure you're doing your research and identifying any wild plant before ingesting. Everyone's body is different so check in, ask questions and listen to yourself if you're not 100% certain about what plant you're eating.