Feast on Flowers

Published on October 8th 2020
A bowl of food on a plate
The options are endless when it comes to edible flowers.
A close up of a glass vase
Cocktails infused with rose and elderberry flowers
At @Babylonstoren we use flower petals fresh, or crystallise them with sugar for decoration, or dry them as a garnish. But that’s not all: how about flower butter for freezing; steeping flowers in oil or vinegar for dressings?
A close up of a bowl of salad
Jasmine and rose petals in a frozen water bowl for serving ice cream
You can freeze flowers in ice to make ice buckets, or add petals to ice trays for pretty cubes in drinks such as iced tea. You can blend flowers into sugar for flavoured sugars, or in sugar syrup for cocktails, mocktails, cordials or jellies. Our fruit popsicles in summer have become a favourite: with fresh fruit and edible flowers so that each individual lolly turns into a beauty of its own.
A little girl in a blue dress

Harvesting tips:

  • Which flowers are edible? Please check. See a list further down.
  • Check for insects on the petals and allow them to stand a while after picking to make sure the bugs are gone.
  • On warm days, gather flowers in the early morning or mid-afternoon after the dew has gone and the petals have opened up.
  • Clip flower stems diagonally with sharp garden shears and dip them immediately into cold water. Keep in a cool place.
Eating and cooking with flowers can be traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures. In Britain, edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era.
A vase of flowers on a table

Some of our favourites:

These marigolds, also known as poor man’s saffron, have a spicy, tangy and peppery flavour that can taste bitter. Sprinkle on soups, pasta and salads, or add to butter.
A close up of a flower
Day lily
Eat, in moderation. Slightly sweet, with a mild vegetable flavour – a combination of baby marrow and asparagus. Great in salads and beautiful for cakes. The white base is bitter – be sure to remove it.
Blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavour. Leaves are peppery and add a tang to salads. Great for garnish.
A close up of a flower garden
The flower is milder than the leaf. Use with meats and seafood, or in a sorbet, dressings and salad.
Its flavour depends on type, colour and soil. It sports a subtle undertone of mint to spice, strawberry, apple. Remove the bitter white portion of petals. Lovely for salads, syrup, jellies, perfumed butter and sweet spreads.
A close up of a flower
Slightly sweet green or grassy flavour. Petals are mild and the whole flower has a green overtone. Suitable for salads, garnish, dessert, drinks or summer soups.
The texture of the flowers is like a miniature artichoke, but the taste is subtle, say green beans with a hint of lemon. The perfume is a surprise.
Part of the Allium family, all parts of the plant are edible. The taste ranges from mild onion to garlic and strong stuff in the flowering seeds.
A close up of a flower
Geranium incanum
Depending on the variety, and the colour of the petals, the flavour can be citrusy, spicy or rose-flavoured. Good for desserts, salad and drinks. The citronella variety is not edible.
Miniature member of the carnation family with a light clove nutmeg scent. Add to a salad for colour, or steep in wine.
Lovely blue star-shaped flower with a cool cucumber taste. Ideal for drinks, sorbet, chilled soups and dips.
A close up of a flower
Flowers are creamy in colour with a sweet scent. Don’t wash them, as this will remove the fragrance. All parts of this plant except the berries and flowers are toxic. Elderflower can also be cooked in a light champagne batter and then dusted with icing sugar and served with vanilla and elderflower ice cream.
The flowers are used in salads with the leaves and have a light piquant flavour. Spicy, peppery with a mild flavour on young leaves that intensifies as they mature. Very Italian.
The flowers have a milder flavour than the leaves. Use flowers in drinks, chilled soups and to garnish cakes.
A close up of a purple flower on a plant
Sweet and perfumed. Perfect for salads, drinks and pretty adornments for cakes and pastries. Heart-shaped leaves are edible and, when cooked, resembles spinach.

Share your #edibleflower creation for @GardenDaySA with us and remeber to use the hashtag, #GardenDaySA !

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