Edible flowers are enjoying a foodie moment, adorning cakes, cocktails and even salads.
But how can we buy into this tasty, textured, and very photogenic trend without eating something potentially dangerous?
Choose edible flowers carefully
“Edible flowers have become hugely popular with some specialist commercial growers, some of whom sell directly to the public, and of course many gardeners adding different flavours and colours to their dishes,” says Guy Barter, chief horticultural advisor at the Royal Horticultural Society.
“However, people should remember that some plants are potentially harmful and only consume flowers known to be safe.”
The RHS website has a guide to edible flowers on its website.
Our favourite edible flowers
“Good ones include pot marigolds (Calendula) with golden petals used to colour and add tang to rice and to decorate dishes; nasturtium with flowers in shades of orange, red and yellow with mildly peppery petals that add zing to salads; and viola, whose petals have a fresh, lettuce-like flavour,” says Barter.
“My favourite are cowslips, which seed themselves freely in grassy areas of my garden. Their spring flowers are highly decorative and slightly sweet.”
Growing your own edible flowers
The good news is, you don’t need acres of space to cultivate your own edible flowers at home.
“Happily some of the easiest plants to grow yield edible flowers and are inexpensive to buy, whether as plants or seeds,” says Barter, who recommends picking them in the morning so they aren’t wilted, and rinsing them in tap water before consuming them.
“As with herbs, cooks don’t need masses of plants to get enough petals so even the smallest garden, perhaps just a balcony, can yield useful amounts of edible blooms.”
The ‘super peony’
You might also want to consider the peony – that blousy bloom currently beloved by brides.
According to flower experts Bloom & Wild, the Chinese are thought to boil and fry the petals for a crunchy, sweet snack, and also add them to summer salads and mixed into punches.