Those pretty annual flowers and perennials you planted can do more than add beauty and attract pollinators to your garden. Some can liven up your lunch, too. Edible flowers have been used in cooking for centuries, so you’ll be in good company with the ancient Romans, Queen Victoria and many other cultures if you snip off a few to make your dishes and drinks more attractive and appealing.
Typically, you’ll use the petals and flowers only, not stems or the inner parts of flowers, such as anthers and pistils, because they are bitter. Also, avoid picking flowers from the roadside or using those you buy at nurseries or florists. You have no idea if those have been treated with pesticides and chemicals, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
And skip using chemicals in your own flower garden (the pollinators will thank you, too) as well. Finally, although many different flowers are edible, be sure to positively identify what you’re choosing to use. This is when the botanical name is helpful for selecting the right plant!
You can use edible flowers to top salads and soups, decorate cakes or freeze in ice cubes for gorgeous additions to iced tea and cocktails. Pick flowers fresh, rinse with cool water, then use. Or rinse and place small flower heads in ice cube molds. The ice cubes will last for several weeks in your freezer.