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Can We Eat Flowers?

Summer weather calls for planting and growing a variety of flowers in gardens and landscapes. Did you know some flowers are edible? By knowing and understanding what flowers are edible, we can plant them in our own gardens to add beautiful colors to our yards and incorporate the flowers into food dishes.

Gardening is a great outdoor hobby during the summer months. An edible landscape garden includes vegetables, fruits and edible flowers. Many people do not know that some flowers are edible and may be used to:

  • Add flavor or garnish to a food dish
  • Add variety to landscapes
  • Provide food and habitat for pollinators and other insects

Edible flowers can be grown easily in garden beds, raised beds and other types of containers. Edible flowers come in many colors, forms and sizes.

Plants need plenty of sunlight -  about six to eight hours per day. Using a fence will protect your plants from small animals that will eat the flowers.

You never should eat a flower unless you know it is harmless. In general, most flower petals are safe to eat. Usually one part of the plant is edible and other parts may not be edible.

The best way to try new edible plants is to eat them in small amounts to see how your body responds because some people may be sensitive to plants that are safe to eat. Also take note of how the plants have been maintained because you should select flowers that have been grown without pesticide use to eat. A resource to identify safe flowers is the “AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants.

Edible flavorful flowers should be paired with complementary flavors. Sweet or floral flowers can be used for dessert garnish, while peppery, cucumber flavor and onion-flavored blossoms add flavor to salads. The steps for harvesting edible flowers include:

  1. Harvest your edible flowers the day they will be used.
  2. Wash the flowers and set them aside to dry.
  3. Once dried, refrigerate them in sandwich bags until use.
  4. Add the flowers to your dish just before serving.

Knowing the plant is important. You should harvest flowers from the correct plant. You can do so by making sure when buying plants or seeds that you purchase plants with the proper scientific names. The Latin name is the best way to ensure you have the correct edible plant species. Follow this link for edible flowers and serving suggestions.

To learn more, check out “Extension Edible Flowers” by University of Minnesota Extension.

 

By Kayla Madson, NDSU Extension Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

Filed under: fca newsletter, fca news

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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