More and more gardeners are enjoying growing their food at home and having good fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs at their fingertips. But what about edible flowers? There are so many great discoveries to be made! Here are the top 6 edible flowers to grow in the garden.
The very popular pansy
Pansy is an easy to grow plant that will give you beautiful flowers all season long. With its bright or more pastel colors, it brings life to the garden. Plant in part shade or full sun and make sure it doesn’t run out of water. Prune faded flowers for longer blooming time.
Pansy flowers are slightly sweet and minty. It is best to avoid cooking them as they do not tolerate heat well and lose the beautiful color that makes them so interesting. Thanks to their delicate taste, they go well with savory dishes, such as salads or tartars, as well as sweet ones, such as fruit salads or cakes. Brush them with egg white and sprinkle them with granulated sugar to make pretty decorations. You can also place the petals in ice cubes to garnish your cocktails.
The delicious zucchini flower
Did you put zucchini plants in the vegetable garden this year? In addition to enjoying the fruit, you can also delight in their flowers. Zucchini flowers are harvested early in the morning while they are still fresh and open, and priority is given to the male flowers since it is the females that produce fruit.
A classic of Italian cuisine, zucchini flowers can be eaten raw, in salads, or cooked, sautéed in pasta, risotto, or as a topping on a pizza or sandwich. They can also be fried or served as fritters. Their slightly sweet taste, similar to that of zucchini, goes well with cheese. Stuffed with a mixture of ricotta cheese, tomatoes and fresh herbs, lightly breaded and fried in oil, they are great!
The lovely nasturtium
Nasturtium is also easy to grow. Because its stems tend to wrap around things, it is often used to camouflage a rather ugly fence. Its beautiful yellow, red or orange flowers add a nice punch to the yard. Blooming from July to September, they tolerate sun and semi-shade. In addition, they are not too greedy for water and fertilizer. Note, however, that they attract aphids.
All parts of the plant can be eaten: leaves, seeds and flowers.
- The flowers are picked early in the morning or at dusk before they fully open. With their peppery taste, they will give flavor to your salads. Why not flavour a butter or a vinaigrette?
- The leaves are rich in vitamin C and are a perfect substitute for lettuce on your sandwiches. They will add a nice spicy note, a bit like watercress.
- Keep the seeds or flower buds closed in vinegar with a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and use them like capers.
The elegant daylily
The daylily is known as a one-day wonder because its flowers last only one day. Very hardy and requiring little watering, it is frequently seen in residential beds. The daylily appreciates the sun, but can tolerate the shade very well. Beware, it can sometimes be a bit invasive, so you may need to divide it from time to time to control its growth.
All parts of the plant are edible: tubers, flowers, flower buds and young shoots:
- The first shoots of daylilies are delicious. Pick them at about 10-15 cm. They can be cooked like green beans, boiled or steamed, with a touch of garlic and butter. Raw, they can be served as raw vegetables with carrots and cucumbers. They can also be cooked quickly, left to cool and sprinkled with a good vinegar to make a warm side salad.
- Young tubers can be eaten raw or cooked. When older, they should be cooked like potatoes. They have a sweet taste similar to water chestnuts or sweet corn.
- The raw flowers have a lemony taste similar to sweet endive. Their crunchy yet tender texture is reminiscent of romaine lettuce. They are ideal for adding color and texture to your salads. You can also stuff them with a mixture of cheese and herbs, taking care to remove the stamens beforehand, a pure delight! Once cooked, the flowers have a subtle asparagus taste with hints of orange blossom. Cook them like any other vegetable to enhance your omelets or soups. You can also fry them, they will amaze your guests during the aperitif! Get inspired by this recipe: https://www.ricardocuisine.com/recettes/4701-beignets-d-hemerocalles-et-salsa-de-fraises-et-de-mangue
Good to know
Dark flowers taste worse (iron taste) than pale ones which are much sweeter to the taste, so dark red flowers are nice, but in my experience, are much worse than yellow or pale pink ones!
- Flower buds are used raw or cooked in salads, sandwiches, omelets, etc. Sauté them in a little butter: delicious!
Be careful, daylily can cause nausea and/or intestinal gas in people with allergies. Consume with moderation the first time!
The generous calendula
Calendula, also called garden marigold, is one of the easiest plants to grow. Very floriferous, it will produce a profusion of small daisy-like pompons in various colors. These flowers have the particularity to open in the sun and to close in the evening. It is preferable to harvest the flowers on sunny days.
It is only the flower and the flower buds of the calendula which are edible. They are very rich in carotene and vitamin A and their bitter and slightly peppery taste can remind of radish. The center of the calendula is very bitter, so we avoid eating it or at least chop it very finely. The petals are used most often. Calendula flowers are mainly used in savoury dishes and go well with rice; they color it like saffron would, without being as expensive. Enhance the flavors of your sauces or egg dishes with this colorful little flower.
The very attractive monard
Monard is a melliferous perennial that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. It will produce beautiful red (scarlet monard) or pink (fistula monard) blooms starting in the 2nd year. It is important to keep the roots moist at all times. Monard can sometimes be invasive, divide it if necessary.
Scarlet monard has a rich lemony, minty smell similar to bergamot, while fistula monard has a taste that is comparable to oregano, but more pronounced. Their uses, however, are similar:
- Dried, the flowers and leaves can be brewed into herbal teas.
- Fresh, the flowers can be used to flavour butter or creamy cheeses to enhance their taste.
- Crystallized like pansies, they decorate pastries.
- Finely chopped, they are ideal on fish, meat and grilled vegetables.
Be careful: some plants can be toxic!
Be careful, not all flowers are edible. Several plants such as elderflower, rhubarb and potato, among others, can even be toxic to humans. Ask your local garden centre for advice.
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