I’ve been delighted to discover that a lot of ornamental flowers and plants are quite edible.
I’ll even say that most of them are tasty offering complex and unique flavours. It’s just a matter of harvesting them at the perfect time before they become bitter.
Often the optimal times to consume them is in early spring when they are young. These items make a delightful addition to the garden and dinner table. We’ve started planting extra of those plants that we enjoy eating.
Before you head out to the garden and harvest flowers for the dinner table, it’s very important to keep in mind that some flowers are either poisonous or parts of them are. Make sure you made a positive identification before consuming. Always avoid flowers that may have been sprayed with chemicals!
Beautiful organic and chemical free tulips petals make a lovely addition to the table in spring. Peppery and sweet, the flavours vary in intensity and profile from type to type. Give one a quick nibble to see how you like it. I like to wait until the petals are just about to fall so we can enjoy their beauty fully before eating. Avoid consuming the bulb, they can be poisonous.
You can read more about eating tulips here!
The young chutes of the hosta are edible. With a flavor something between lettuce and asparagus, Hosta petals can easily be substituted for greens in salads, stir fry, wilted greens, sandwiches etc. Select shoots that are young and tender, you’ll find older leaves are bitter and far less palatable. I haven’t had the pleasure of trying this one yet – it’s a new discovery and we are eagerly awaiting the hostas to grow so we can have a meal!
Here is a bit more information on eating hostas!
When ostrich ferns emerge in spring the new growth appears curled up much like the top of a violin. These curls are often called fiddleheads. The fiddleheads of ostrich ferns are a popular delicacy in Eastern Canada (and elsewhere). Outside of the garden ostrich ferns can sometimes be found growing on banks and shores and in wet areas. Harvest them young because they quickly unfurl and lose their tenderness. Do not eat the fiddleheads of any other kind of fern without doing research on if it is edible and always cook your fiddleheads before eating!
The lovely purple or while flowers that are produced by allums are quite edible. The blossoms of chives have a mild onion/garlic flavour and can be sprinkled on most anything. They make a wonderful infused vinegar and can also be battered and fried.
Here’s a recipe for tempura chive flowers.
A while ago I wrote about the wonderful culinary uses for spring lilacs. As they start to bloom and bud keep them in mind for salads, cocktails, vinegars and other wonderful kitchen creations.
Here’s a list of beautiful and simple spring lilac recipes including: flavoured simple syrups, sugars and honey.
This hardy annual pops up all over the place in early spring. It produces masses of small, brightly coloured flowers in lavender yellow and white. The petals have a mild wintergreen taste and look beautiful served on cakes, salads and cocktails. They also stand out when mixed into soft cheeses and biscuit recipes.
Yoghurt Cheese Recipe
Here is my easy recipe for yoghurt cheese. Our guests make special requests that we serve this one and It’s the first things we run out of on our cheese platters. All of the flowers and plants listed in this post can be used to make this easy and delicious recipe!
I hope I’ve inspired you to get out into the garden and explore the culinary potential of everything that you grow!