Flowers You Can Eat

When you think of fresh-cut flowers, you probably imagine them in a bouquet and not on a plate. However, many blooms are edible and can add subtle flavor to your dishes. Whether you love cooking or baking, or are just a flower enthusiast, here are some plants that are safe to ingest:

Perhaps one of the most well-known edible flowers, roses are subtle, fragrant and sweet. In general, roses are often used in desserts, such as jams, preserves and baked goods. The trick is balancing the petals with other flavors in your dish for the perfect hint of floral notes. Too much, and your food may taste soapy.

To get the best flavor from your roses, cut them from the plant after they first bloom. Then, prep them for cooking right before you need to incorporate them into your recipe. Do this by trimming off the white base of the petal, as this part tastes bitter. However, don't cut them too soon, or your petals will dry out before you actually get to use them.

Roses pair well with fruits and spices, and you'll see them in recipes alongside apricots, saffron, cardamom and honey.

Another popular edible flower, lavender is fragrant and herbaceous. It makes appearances most often in desserts, though it can absolutely add depth to savory dishes as well. Make sure to purchase culinary lavender for cooking, as it has different properties than its ornamental counterpart. While you can eat lavender plucked from your garden safely, it won't taste quite the same as plants grown for cooking.

If you grow culinary-grade lavender, wait to pick it until right before you cook. As with herbs, plucking too soon can cause the plant to dry, whither or lose its flavor.

Bright flavors, such as lemon, help balance lavender and prevent your dishes from tasting soapy. Rosemary is also ideal, especially when used to season savory foods, like potatoes or lamb.

Dandelion may be the bane of your garden, but this flower makes a great cooking companion. What's more, dandelions enhance savory dishes and are full of nutrients.

If you choose to pick them in the wild, avoid areas with heavy traffic and instead look to parks and fields.

Mix dandelions with vegetables, like tomatoes or zucchini. You can also make dishes that include mild cheeses, like gruyere, and herbs. Finally, the flowers are perfect for frying in light batters.

No matter what flowers you cook with, be sure they are free of pesticides or other chemicals. Additionally, clean them thoroughly before use.