Edible flowers add color and flavor to a meal. They are a fun, unexpected and creative touch. Fresh petals can be added into baked goods or used as a garnish on frosting or whipped cream. Petals can be crystallized and added as accents to baked goods and cocktails. Flowers can be frozen in ice cubes for an unexpected surprise or mixed into vanilla ice-cream for a fun dessert. They are used in soups, stir fries and condiments.
Edible flowers have been a part of cuisine for centuries. Ancient Egyptians crystallized violets and added them to food. The English ground together violets and chicory and used them in confections. During the Renaissance, rose petal water was a popular drink. In Victorian times, flowers were a very popular addition to recipes. Carnations have played a part in Chinese, Japanese and French cooking. Stuffed squash blossoms hold a place in both Italian and Hispanic cooking.
Where to Purchase
Ask any proprietors about the environment in which the flowers are grown. All environments should be organic and free of chemical pesticides.
Local farmer's markets are good sources for edible flowers. If you are purchasing from a local flower store be very specific with any questions regarding pesticides and edibility of their flowers. Local flower shops often provide flowers intended for viewing not for eating, and these flowers are grown with pesticides.
Gourmet food stores usually carry a variety of edible flowers. They are also typically available in natural food stores. Some traditional grocery stores carry the flowers in their specialty produce, or herb, section. Look for flowers marked as edible.
Grow your own edible flowers. Edible flowers are relatively easy to grow. It is important to grow them in an environment without chemical pesticides. Follow directions carefully.
There are also internet sites available for edible flower purchase. For example, edible flowers can be purchased from Seabreeze Organic Farm (http://www.seabreezed.com/). A wide variety of crystallized edible flowers are available through Sweetfields (http://www.sweetfields.com/).
Not all flowers are edible. Some flowers may be poisonous. Know what you are eating. Only eat flowers that are pesticide free or treated with only organic pesticides.
Not all parts of a flower are edible. Research carefully and ask someone who is familiar with edible flowers prior to consumption.
Do not pick flowers along the roadside and add them to your cooking. Roadsides attract chemicals from passing cars and road maintenance.