What flowers are edible?
As with foraging, when it comes to edible flowers, it’s vital to know how to identify different types of flowers before eating them!
It’s possible, and easy, to grow many edible flowers in your own garden, but commercial edible flowers are typically grown for the sole purpose of eating. This is so that the use of pesticides (and any other interference from animals) can be controlled.
The following flowers are edible for humans:
- Sweet violet
- Scented geraniums
- Pot marigold
How to use edible flowers
Dried edible flowers such as mallow and hibiscus come to life in syrups and cocktails. Dried lavender brings a hint of perfume to biscuits and icing. Rose petals add flair and fragrance to cakes and Middle Eastern dishes. Use the petals to top a fragrant rice pudding, or stir through pilaf rice.
Dried edible flowers such as marigold and cornflower are also great in infusions, or even sprinkled over fresh salads.
Dried rose petals bring a subtle perfumed aroma to Persian rice dishes. Just stir a couple of tablespoons of the edible petals through a pilaf in the last twenty minutes of cooking, and then sprinkle over more petals to garnish.
Greenfields lavender imparts a floral fragrance to cakes and biscuits. You can also add a pinch of this dried lavender to infuse in hot water with green tea for a soothing drink.
Dried cornflowers, also known as bachelor's button, are a beautiful, edible flower known for their cobalt-blue petals. They have a delicate, clove-like flavour which pairs well with white fish, or use to decorate meringues and sweet canapés.
What are the best edible flowers for cake decorations?
The best edible flowers for cakes and biscuits are rose, lavender and cornflower. Rose and lavender have fairly strong, distinctive flavours that can stand up to a cake batter or biscuit dough. Either lightly crush the edible flowers and add directly into the mixture, or use afterwards as edible decoration. Cornflower petals give a brilliant shot of blue when sprinkled.
Crystallised or candied flowers are the best for cake decoration. They are very brightly coloured with intense aromas and flavours. These flowers will stand out against an iced cake and are a simple way of turning a classic sponge into a showstopping cake.
The intense rose scent and vivid pink colour from these crystallised petals makes them perfect for decorating frosted cakes, lemon possets, or crushed to sprinkle over biscuits.
These crystallised petals can be nibbled on as they are, used to decorate cakes, or try dotting an individual petal on top of dark chocolate.
How to store edible flowers
Store dried edible flowers in a sealed container in a dry place. Try to store edible flowers in a dark place as well - too much light will make the vibrant colours fade.
You can freeze fresh edible flowers to preserve them and they will stay vibrant as long as they are frozen. However, when they defrost they will quickly lose their colour and wilt. You can still use the edible flowers to infuse syrup or tea. If you want to use edible flowers for cake decoration, it’s best not to freeze them.
Ellie Edwards is a food writer for Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.