Edible Flowers List: 5 Plants for Culinary Creations
How to Identify and Use Common Garden Flowers, Including Edible Rose Pedals
Reading Time: 7 minutes
An edible flowers list doesn’t have to be exotic. Your own flower garden can supply your kitchen with yummy goodies.
I was a young girl when I first tasted the astringent sweetness of edible rose petals and the citrusy flavor of day lily petals. My mom handed the edible rose petals and day lily petals to me and asked me to taste them. I was hooked. Those roses and day lilies were the first specimens I wrote down on my edible flowers list. Yes, you can feast on common edible flowers! An edible flowers list can include edible rose petals and the petals of day lilies (Hemerocallis species). Other common flower petals are marigolds (Tagetes species and calendula), petunias and nasturtiums.
Edible rose petals and others on my edible flowers list give flower power to food and drinks!
As with any plant, positive identification is crucial. That’s why I’m including flowers that are easily identified, distinctive in their own right and commonly grown.
The beauty of growing these popular flowers in your own yard is that you are intimate with the growing conditions. Make sure they are pesticide and insecticide free and not a meeting place for the family cat or dog.
Flavor Profiles and Preparing for Use
Tasting is the fun part. Sometimes the aroma will give you a hint of the flavor. To my palate, roses can taste sweet to bland, depending upon the variety. Day lilies have a definite crunchy texture and citrus tang, while nasturtiums offer a spicy, peppery bite. Calendula and petunias are slightly sweet. Marigolds have a strong, lingering flavor.
Most of the petals of the edible flowers I’m talking about can just be plucked from the stem. The exception is roses. I like to remove the white “heels” from rose petals, as they can be bitter.
Petals of edible flowers, including edible rose petals, are very fragile. Rinse them gently in a bowl of cool water. This not only cleans them, but any hitchhikers will be rinsed off. Carefully lift them out, drain and let air dry on a cooling rack or towel before using.
All the flowers mentioned contain fiber. In addition, roses contain immune building vitamin C. Marigolds have antioxidants that are good for eye health and day lilies help detoxify the system.
Creative Recipes using Petals from an Edible Flowers List
If you’re new to using edible flowers, like edible rose petals and others on my edible flowers list, try a simple shower of minced blossoms on top of your green salad or fresh fruit tray; they will elevate it from ordinary to wow!
Rose Petal Butter
The flowers on my edible flowers list make outstanding flower butters. My favorite is rose petal butter; beautiful and delicious on its own. If you want a sweeter butter, add a little honey or stevia (the sugar substitute herb), to the butter. Spread some on warm scones and you’ll see what I mean about flower power.
There’s no set recipe; soften a couple sticks of unsalted butter and stir in a tablespoon of finely chopped petals. Freeze a log or two. It will keep at least six months in the freezer. To use, slice off what you need while still frozen.
Crystallized Petals and Leaves
These are unique! You’d pay a pretty penny for the commercially crystallized petals and leaves. And they won’t have the detail you see here.
I love using edible rose petals and other edible flowers and herb leaves, especially mint leaves, to make crystallized garnishes.
Brush a little beaten egg white on both sides of a petal or leaf, making sure every part is coated. Place in a shallow bowl filled with fine granulated sugar. Carefully sprinkle sugar into every nook and cranny and dry on a cooling rack away from light and humidity. Store at room temperature in covered container for up to six months.
Stuffed Day Lilies
Stuffed day lilies make tasty appetizers. Use your favorite herb spread and pipe into the centers. How easy is that? You can serve them two ways, with the petals completely open, or closed.
Brie with Edible Flowers and Herbs
A wheel of Brie or cheese of your choice looks stunning garnished with edible flowers.
To make the flowers stick to the cheese, I make a simple gelatin or glue.
Soften 1/4 oz. envelope unflavored gelatin into 1/4 cup cool water until gelatin begins to bloom and soak up the water, about five minutes. It may look a little lumpy. Pour one cup water into a saucepan, add the gelatin mixture and cook over low heat until mixture is clear and gelatin dissolves. Let it cool, stirring often, but don’t let it jell back up. If it does, reheat. Use a pastry brush and brush a thin layer of the cooled gelatin on the cheese. Lay petals on top. Herb leaves work well, too. Let gelatin set and then brush another very thin layer on the petals. Be careful so you don’t pull them up as you brush. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
This vinegar is spicy with floral notes. The petals of nasturtiums, calendula and marigold create a jewel-like color.
Fill a jar or bottle with white wine vinegar. (Make your own for so much less than buying it: Stir in up to one cup white wine to up to four cups clear vinegar, depending upon the flavor and strength of the wine).
Add washed and dried petals of all three of these flowers, or any two, or even just one of the flower specimens to the vinegar. Fill the jar about 1/4 of the way up. Let it steep until the petals bleed their color into the vinegar and become limp. Check after a few days. You’ll know infusion is complete by the aroma. Strain, taste, add more white wine vinegar if you like and bottle.
Edible rose petals and petunias add beauty and nutrition to this carafe of vitamin water. Let the petals infuse with whatever herbs and fruit you are using. The vitamin water below contains citrus, mint, petunia and rose petals.
Identifying Common Edible Flowers in the Wild
Interestingly, some of the very same flowers that grow in your yard can go rogue. Some flowers on my edible flowers list reclaim the land, finding their way to fields and roadsides. This is particularly true of roses and day lilies. That’s why wild plant identification is especially important. You’re not on familiar turf here.
I’ve often ventured into an abandoned field and found tiger lilies, the same day lilies you see photographed above, along the border. Exploring further into the field I’ve been rewarded with a low hanging tangle of wild roses. The aroma can be exquisite. I am always on the lookout for other edibles during these sojurns. A couple of weeks ago, near a road bordering day lilies, I found a small stand of staghorn sumac. The cone shaped, edible dark red flower heads make a delicious and vitamin C filled lemonade. I knew not to confuse this with poison sumac, a completely different plant related to poison ivy. Here’s what staghorn sumac looks like.
I’m reminded of the importance of wild plant identification, as well, especially when I forage in the spring for edible woodland wild flowers and mushrooms. There are many look-a-likes out there, so wild plant identification is key.
And if I have an abundant mushroom harvest during my wild wanderings, drying mushrooms is on the agenda. I dry them just like I dry common and wild edible flower petals, in my food dehydrator.
I’ve sure enjoyed sharing my knowledge of common edible flowers with you. Now that I’ve told you how to identify and use some common edible flowers, including edible rose petals and other favorites, will you let me know how you use them? Do you have favorites not listed here? If so, will you share those along with any recipes using them?
If you’d like a complete list of edible flowers, go to my site About Eating. You can post your comments below.