Edible flowers can make even the simplest presentation eye-catching. Whether you’re decorating a serving platter, a cake or individual servings of butter, whole flowers or just petals put the “special” into a special occasion. A salad can go from ordinary to over-the-top with the addition of colorful flower petals.
Even if the flowers are just being used to decorate a plate, be sure they are edible—someone in the crowd is bound to pop one in his mouth! Use only organically grown flowers, as the pesticides used on ornamental plants are even more toxic than those used on food crops. Never eat flowers picked from the side of the road or that come from florists or garden centers. As with any produce, wash the flowers thoroughly.
Usually only the flower petals are eaten; pistils and stamens are removed. If you’re not accustomed to eating flowers, or if you have allergies, start with just one type of flower in small quantities.
A few food flower favorites:
- Borage flowers and leaves taste a bit like cucumber and make a beautiful addition to cool beverages as well as foods.
- Fuchsia flowers have a slightly acidic flavor and come in brilliant color combinations.
- Lavender flowers can be used in savory dishes as well, but where they really shine is in desserts.
- Marigolds add a sharp taste and bold shot of color to pasta and rice dishes as well as soups, salads and eggs.
- Nasturtiums add a peppery tang and brilliant, warm colors to salads of butter lettuce or other mild salad greens.