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Edible Flowers

 
Posts: 329
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As with all edibles, different people have different tastes. The oxeye daisy tastes exactly like shungiku (or "chop suey greens") which to me is unappealing and I'll give it a miss from now on.  The daylily, I like a lot, usually in stir fry.

It is hard to know what flowers are edible in the Dominican Republic, since people here don't seem to eat flowers habitually (which is odd, because they will eat guavas in the hard, green stage, which to me are just nasty). I have heard of some Asian cultures where people eat banana flowers, so if I can figure out how to prepare them, I shall have to try them -- Dominican practice is to cut off the flower after a section of stem without any bananas forms, so that the plant will put energy into the existing bananas instead of more flowers.
 
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Just the other night I was reading a cookbook on Native American cuisine, "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen" by Sean Sherman, that I got from the library and saw a section where he's preparing sunflowers, not the seeds, but the pith sections of the flower heads, trimming off everything else and then braising them in a pot.  I never knew that part of the sunflower was edible!  I'm definitely going to have to plant some sunflowers next year to both get the seeds and then try this with the heads!  
 
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I'm enjoying the new flower forum, and seeing some of these older posts I never happened across before!

An edible-flower rite of spring I miss now that my kids are grown is dandelion fritters.  Yes, the dandelion flowers are edible!  The posse of neighborhood kids would gather a huge bowl, and I would dip them in a thin pancake-type batter, fry them, and then sprinkle them with powdered sugar.  They would then march the tray around to each house in the neighborhood and give samples, because it was very important to them that everyone discover that you could eat dandelions!  

LOL, I hadn't thought of this in years.  Maybe next year I'll harvest a big batch of dandelion flowers and attempt wine instead.
 
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I don't think I've seen mention of three of my favorites. Redbud and Virginia waterleaf flowers are amazingly sweet. Sweet cicely is delicious as well, tastes a bit like anise, but better. They're all gorgeous flowers, too.
Of course with the sweet cicely, you really want to be extremely familiar with the plant and positive in your identification, given the similarity to poison and water hemlock. The crushed leaves and stems smell and taste like anise too. It took me over a year of living with it to feel comfortable eating it. But so worth it!
 
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Foraging in the garden for flowers. How nice. I like watching the pollinators too. Finding lots of oyster mushrooms currently.
Fun pictures. Thanks
 
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I know alliums have been mentioned a couple of times already, but seasonal right now in the UK is wild garlic or ramsons.  The flowers taste garlicky but also sweet if you wait until they are fully open rather than going for the buds.  Popular with my teenager on a bike ride yesterday!  
IMG_4851.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_4851.JPG]
 
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Heather Olivia wrote:I don't think I've seen mention of three of my favorites. Redbud and Virginia waterleaf flowers are amazingly sweet. Sweet cicely is delicious as well, tastes a bit like anise, but better. They're all gorgeous flowers, too.
Of course with the sweet cicely, you really want to be extremely familiar with the plant and positive in your identification, given the similarity to poison and water hemlock. The crushed leaves and stems smell and taste like anise too. It took me over a year of living with it to feel comfortable eating it. But so worth it!


Oh my, I had just learned about our native Ballhead waterleaf here in Montana last week. Not my picture, but here it is to show all its beauty.


(image souce)

And inspired by Heather's experience with the Virginia variety, I looked it up, and low and behold, ours is edible too! This guy writes the following about it here:

All parts are edible. The blossom is a perfect little garnish. The root is savory and has substance. Leaves taste more appealing and sweeter than the flower and stems, which are mild and reminiscent of alfalfa.  


The roots branch into a cluster of small fingers and are the preferred part to eat—crunchy and a bit earthy. The sweet carrot-tasting leaves can be eaten raw or cooked but are best when young. If collecting the flower, wait until it is fully opened to avoid unsavory furriness. It is neutral in flavor and texture, so use as a garnish or entertainment while hiking.


So this guy's opinion is that the Ballhead waterleaf flowers are not very sweet, which is different than your experience with the Virginia waterleaf, Heather.

Though I think I have found that if you happen to be able to harvest a flower just after it opened, and before the nectar has been harvested by pollinators, that it is far sweeter. Kind of like being a kid and sucking nectar from the base of clover blossom parts. Some have it, some don't because it was already taken!

Has anyone else noticed the varying sweetness of flowers depending on the nectar?

 
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Found this, it has photos.
http://www.askaprepper.com/edible-flowers-north-america/
 
Joe Grand
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https://laidbackgardener.blog/2022/03/20/gow-a-garden-of-edible-flowers-from-seed/
However, if you want to create a wildflower garden dedicated to edible flowers, the plants you choose must be able to grow together under the same conditions.
 
Joe Grand
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https://www.handmadeapothecary.co.uk/blog/2019/3/16/magnolia-a-foraged-spice-cupboard
After dealing with this tree for over forty years, I never knew it was edible.

 
Joe Grand
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https://honest-food.net/dining-on-daylilies/

The Scientific Classification of Daylilies Changed in 2009
Prior to 2009, the scientific classification of daylilies put them into the family Liliaceae. Many Liliaceae species, including that toxic tiger lily just mentioned (along with the commonly named Easter and Asian lilies), have long been known to be harmful to forms of animal life including humans, and so some came to assume that daylilies shared the specific toxic properties of lilies. They do not.

In 2009, under the APG III system, daylilies were removed from the Liliaceae family and assigned to the Xanthorrhoeaceae family, subfamily Hemerocallidoideae.

The Old and New Classifications of Hemerocallis
Old Classification New Classification - APG III
Kingdom: Plantae Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular plants) clade: Angiosperms
Superdivision: Spermatophyta (Seed plants) clade: Monocots
Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants) Order: Asparagales
Class: Liliopsida (Monocotyledons) Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subclass: Liliidae Subfamily: Hemerocallidoideae
Order: Liliales Genus: Hemerocallis
Family: Liliaceae (Lily family)
Genus: Hemerocallis L. (Daylily)
Unfortunately, many sources on the web and elsewhere have not taken this change of scientific classification into account.
 
Joe Grand
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If you’re just looking for a quick list, here’s a quick list of edible flowers below. If you’re looking for some tasty recipes for using each flower, or wondering how they taste, read on my friends.
Angelica
Anise Hyssop
Bachelors Buttons
Bee Balm
Begonia
Borage
Black Locust
Calendula
Carnations
Chamomile
Chickory
Chives (and other alliums)
Chrysanthemum
Clover
Daisy
Dame’s Rocket
Dandelions
Daylilies
Elderflower
Fireweed
Forsythia
Fruit Blossoms (Apple, pear, plum, citrus, etc)
Hibiscus
Hollyhock
Honeysuckle
Hostas
Lavender
Lilac
Linden
Marshmallow
Meadowsweet
Milkweed
Nasturtium
Peonies
Phlox
Rose
Scented Geraniums
Sunflowers
Tulips
Violets
https://practicalselfreliance.com/edible-flowers/

 
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Stephen Barstow wrote:OK, the picture shows another salad which I made for the regional newspaper in June, the second picture showing all flowers and colourful leaves assembled for decorating the salad. The link is to all the plants assembled (there are over 100) and if you hover with your mouse you will see the names in Norwegian and the scientific name...

http://www.thinglink.com/scene/536181539210264576

Here's a list of ones I can see in the salad:
Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla)
Lilium monadelphum
Violas
Claytonia sibirica (Siberian spring beauty)
Dandelion
Tulip
Dame's Violet
Viviparous bistort
Scorzonera
Numerous Alliums (onions)
Aquilegia barnebyi
Bunias oreintalis (Turkish Rocket)
etc...



Your salads are beautiful. I started eating flowers as a prank at a high school dance. I tossed a couple of petals from my date's (now my wife) corsage into my mouth. I was surprised at how sweet they were. I tried some from each of the girls at our table. I found rose petals to be too bitter for my taste. Carnations are my favorite. Not likely a problem here but I caution against those with artificial colors.
 
Jeremy Baker
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Thanks for the extensive list Joe. Saw a ditch full of violas here in Germany today. Survived another Winter.
 
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I used forsythia first time this year, in a salad. Delicious.
 
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Flora Eerschay wrote:I used forsythia first time this year, in a salad. Delicious.



I put forsythia blossoms in honey last year, it ended up with a caramel taste.
 
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Young evening primrose leaves are good for greens in salad then when they start blooming the blossoms are good in the salad.
 
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One of my favorites that anyone can get us dandelions. The whole plant it edible. The leaves are great raw or cooked.  The roots once chopped and lightly roasted make a great coffee substitute. The buds and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked. But I really like to ferment the buds. They are much like capper’s.
 
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Su Ba wrote:Stephen, you flower salad looks amazing.

Other than nasturtiums, I'm not using flowers in my meals. Reason -- I don't know which are safe to eat. I'm seeing people mentioning Johnny-jump-ups, borage, and roses (the petals I assume? I've heard of the hips (seed pods being used to make a tea). Adding color to a salad sounds great.

Could you list a few?




Alliums ? I would say, It's so tasty in pasta and potato salads!!!
 
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The secret to a delicious flower salad is to use more greens than flowers.  20% or 30% flowers by weight is a good balance, if you have that many flowers.  Balancing sweet, hot, tart, bitter, and other flavors helps too (both of the greens and flower portion of the salad).  If you are selling the flower salad as we do, avoid ones that turn gray quickly like dandelion, any of these 3:  chicory, raddicchio and endive flowers (they look beautiful on the plant but get gray once picked), the purpleish red fuzzy vetch flowers (so called "hairy vetch" grown in cold climates has smoother purple and white blooms that do keep for longer).  Using fennel leaves, flowers or buds, pea tops, pansies, anise hyssop can balance dandelion greens, calendula blooms (then you can use the entire flower), chicory leaves, endive, etc.  I find Batchelor Button flowers to be tough and unsatisfying but some seem to like them.

If you are near the southern Berkshires of Massachusetts we have an in-person class "Eating and Growing on the Wild Side: Salad University" a few times a year.  Please email me at edibleland@earthlink.net if you want to get on our announcement list (you will need to get through the spam blocker by responding when your email gets snagged).
 
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My guess on the micro daisies is that they look quite a bit like a cosmos. (Cosmos sulphureus is edible. Cosmos bipinnatus is not.)

I agree with the folks who mentioned the flowers of garden vegetables, and especially squash blossoms, which figure so heavily in Mexican and Italian summer dishes. Since squash has separate male and female flowers, and the male flowers won't make a squash, you can eat them without affecting your harvest of squash later. To tell the difference: female flowers have a little swelling at the base below the flower's green fuzzy calyx. (The little swollen or bulblike part will become the squash.) On male flowers, the calyx just sits atop a stem with no swollen bulb.

Not sure if anyone has mentioned cilantro flowers, which are dainty and very good in salad, along with arugula flowers.

Probably one of the easiest and more sure-fire for beginners is basil flowers, great in salads and main dishes and very decorative.

I am wondering though, about the post somewhere back there that mentioned aquilegia (columbine), as they are generally considered poisonous.

For the hesitant, here is a good place to start: https://www.quailseeds.com/store/p289/Edible_Flower_Collection.html
 
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:Super Leila!
We would feel at home in each other cuisine....

Yes I forgot, but I also use brasica flowers like radish or rucula.
When you miss the root or the leave, then you get the flower!

And some wild peas, and wild allium.

About fruit tress flowers, I should eat alongs' at the moment!
I don't dare eat apple flowers that would not give their fruit....

I was told that feijoa flower is great (at least it is beautiful)


You can eat apple blossoms and still get a crop. Commercial orchards try to bring in bees to pollinate the "King" flower of the cluster of 5 and then wisk the bees off to somewhere else before the rest open. You can create the same effect by gently knocking off the spares to leave the king as the largest, strongest, or most in line with the branch. The King then gets all the trees nutrient rich attention and you avoid the cycle of bumper crop/ pathetic common to most modern cultivars.
 
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So, is the rule that the flowers, themselves, have to be edible, or any part of a wildflower?

Some I know of that I don't think we're covered:
-young goldenrods (younger plants are tender & have better taste than older ones. Veggie or tea)
-Sourwood flowers (for tea)
-Honey Locust or Black Locust flowers (for tea)
-Solomon's Seal (vegetable, though rare in US today)
-Toothwort (root made into relish)
-Wintercress (vegetable)
-Indian Potato (flowers for spice.  Rest of plant for vegetable)
 
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Aurora House wrote:

Xisca Nicolas wrote:Super Leila!
We would feel at home in each other cuisine....

Yes I forgot, but I also use brasica flowers like radish or rucula.
When you miss the root or the leave, then you get the flower!

And some wild peas, and wild allium.

About fruit tress flowers, I should eat alongs' at the moment!
I don't dare eat apple flowers that would not give their fruit....

I was told that feijoa flower is great (at least it is beautiful)


You can eat apple blossoms and still get a crop. Commercial orchards try to bring in bees to pollinate the "King" flower of the cluster of 5 and then wisk the bees off to somewhere else before the rest open. You can create the same effect by gently knocking off the spares to leave the king as the largest, strongest, or most in line with the branch. The King then gets all the trees nutrient rich attention and you avoid the cycle of bumper crop/ pathetic common to most modern cultivars.



agreed it is a good way. additionally if you let apples grow naturally in clumps, the places where they touch can foster a rot, cause molds and water to gather where they touch and smoosh together..., if the clump of 2-4 apples all grow together.

knocking off several of the baby apples in clumps when they are forming is a yearly chore for apple trees. only leave one in each bunch ideally. and good point, by eating the apple blossoms and harvesting those so that only one flower remains of each clump, you would greatly improve the quality of that apple, as well as the size most likely.
 
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