To celebrate National Gardening Week 2018, we have put together a list of our favourite edible flowers which you can grow at home! (No, we’re not pollen your leg…) Because why buy expensive edible flowers for cake decorating or herbal teas when you can just grab them from your garden instead?
Number 10 – Chrysanthemum
You can use the bright petals to flavour and cream soups, fish chowder and even egg dishes! You can also make your own chrysanthemum tea by drying out the leaves and placing them in tea strainer into hot water. The tea can provide many health benefits such as relieving stress and anxiety, migraine pains; digestion after a heavy meal, high blood pressure and can boost your metabolism. Pretty impressive for something which is just growing in the garden, isn’t it?
Number 9 – Hollyhock
It is quite well known that these stunning petals are often dried out, crystallized then used to decorate cakes. But, similar to Chrysanthemums, they can also be used to sooth respiratory and urinary tracts in the body and also relieve dry coughs. However, Hollyhock is one of the few flowers that can be used fresh in salads, added to light baking and infused in syrups due to its mild floral taste.
When first discovered, these plants were said to have relieved hiccups and the effects of being struck by lightening… Nowadays, Pot marigolds have a naturally intense colour and peppery taste making them great for soups, stews and puddings. You can also use the petals in vinegar or added to oil or butter – what could be butter?
Number 7 – Rose
Coming from the strawberry and apple family, it is said that the more fragrant a rose then the nicer it is to eat! These petals can be crystallized, used to flavour drinks (eg rose lemonade) and even ice summer cakes. Other uses are to mix some dry petals in butter to make it more fragrant for baking, leave it amongst sugar to change the flavour of your tea, and to alter the taste of vinegar when used in salads. Are you able to rose up to the challenge?
Number 6 – Hibiscus
Hibiscus is known for its distinctive flavour and deep colours, although, many don’t realise that it has powerful antioxidant levels which are even higher than those in green tea! The most surprising common use for it is in tacos – yes, tacos – as it is commonly used as a meat substitute and mixed with roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed vegetables before being wrapped in a tortilla leaf. For the meat lovers, you can throw some hibiscus tea into a marinade to tenderise beef or lamb whilst adding a lot of lfavour and colours due to its tannins (which are the same as the ones in red wine).
Number 5 – Sweet Violet
These delicate flowers are bursting with colour making them perfect to decorate soufflés or to garnish cakes with. They have been found to be slightly laxative and are also a gentle expectorant but have many uses such as used fresh in salads, used to colour and flavour vinegar, made into a delicate jelly, mixed into porridge, and even fermented into a sweet wine! It’s clear that these bright beauties have more to them than meets the eye, and can alter your cooking experience for the better!
Number 4 – Tiger Lily
It is important to note that despite the Tiger Lily being fit for human consumption, parts can be toxic to cats so make sure that you keep your feline friends far from your culinary creations! In Asia, the plant is grown for its edible bulb, which when cooked, resembles a turnip flavour! You can also boil, pickle or use the bulbs to make starch/ The flowers, on the other hand, can be used fresh and dried in soups, salads, omelets and rice dishes. Make sure to do some research about what type of Tiger Lily plant you have though, as some can be unsettling for the stomach!
Number 3 – Bergamot
These funky flowers are members of the mint family and have a surprisingly strong spicy scent which makes them perfect for tea but they also compliment savoury food such as bacon, poultry, rice and pasta. The strong flavour also makes it a perfect addition to a cocktail or in a sweet dish (such as cookies or muffins) alongside rosemary. If you have any left over, you can always throw them into a potpourris to add colour and spread its scent!
Number 2 – Sunflower
Known for its majestic petals and use in cooking oils, the sunflower has many more uses in the kitchen. Pull the seedlings from your sunflower patch while they are around 6 inches tall. You can eat the sunflower sprouts straight from the ground, on top of salads, or in a stir fry, meaning that you get to enjoy a meal whilst cutting down on plant waste! You can also eat the leaves of older plants alone or in in a salad, meaning that not a single part of this flower goes to waste. You can also, of course, place the flower heads in a dry and well ventilated place and allow the seeds to mature before eating them too. This plant can basically give you a three course meal if you want it to!
Number 1 – Nasturtium
We chose this brightly-coloured, peppery flower as our favourite because you can use the whole flower in salad and pasta dishes, as well as on egg and toast as pictured above! Both the leaves and the petals of this flower are packed with nutrition and contain high levels of vitamin C meaning that it can help improve the immune systel, tackle sore throats and fight bacterial and fungal infections, whilst having lots of flavour packed in too! Why not make it the star of your meal tonight?
Still got green fingers? Dig into our other garden articles…