Edible flowers are used in many different styles of cuisine and can be found on menus all over the world. Not all flowers are safe to eat but those that can offer a unique burst of flavour and colour to many dishes, including salads, beverages and baked food. Some of them may even offer health benefits!
Hibiscus plants produce large, ornate blossoms that usually grow in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Hundreds of hibiscus species exist, but the most popular edible variety is known as roselle. Hibiscus flowers are found in a wide array of colours including red, white, yellow and pink. Although sometimes grown for beauty purposes, hibiscus is also well known for its culinary and medicinal applications. You can eat the flower straight from the plant, but it is usually used for jam or tea. The tea is bright red and has a sour flavour. Hibiscus may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Dandelions are known as stubborn garden weeds. However, they happen to double as a highly nutritious edible flower. Dandelions have small blossoms with many tiny yellow petals. They supply various plant compounds known to have powerful antioxidant properties. The flowers are not the only part of dandelion that can be eaten, every part of it can be enjoyed including roots, stems and leaves. The flowers can be eaten raw or into a salad. The roots are often used to make tea, while the greens may be consumed raw as a salad.
Lavender is a woody, floral herb originally grown in parts of northern Africa and the Mediterranean. The violet flowers are very small. Lavender is probably best known for its fragrance, for its calming effects. The combination of colour and aroma makes lavender particularly desirable addition to a variety of foods, including baked food, infused syrups, herbal teas, ice cream and herb mixtures. When cooking with lavender, it’s best to start with a small amount and increase slowly until you achieve the desired flavour as it can quickly become overpowering.
There are over 150 species of roses available in almost any size and colour. The best part is that they are all edible. All roses don’t taste the same. For choosing a flavourful rose is that if it smells pleasant, it’ll probably taste good. Only eat the petals! Roses petals have a very aromatic, floral and slightly sweet flavour. They can be eaten raw, mixed into various fruit or green salads or dried and added to granola. Fresh rose petals can also be added to liquid to create rose-infused beverages and jellies. Some research suggests that certain compounds in roses may play a role in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
Chamomile is a floral herb used in cooking and traditional medicine for centuries. Medicinally, chamomile is often consumed to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. The flowers closely resemble daisies but much smaller. They lend a slightly sweet, earthy flavor to the foods they’re cooked with. Most recipes call for heating the flowers in a liquid to extract their flavours and bioactive compounds. The leaves and flowers are usually dried first but can be used fresh. While most often utilized for chamomile tea, the blossoms can also make syrups or other infusions for smoothies or desserts.