Edible flowers have taken the culinary world by storm. They have been popping up in menus and gourmet magazines.
But eating flowers is nothing new. They have been used for centuries for their health benefits. Infused in teas, dried into powders, or as herbal poultices. In fact, they have been used as a garnish too for generations.
Do you want to begin using flowers to elevate your sweet and savory dishes? Get ready to transform your meals into masterpieces, improve your health, and tantalize your taste buds. I share with you 20 edible flowers along with their flavor profile and usage that you can begin using in your kitchen today.
By far the most popular edible flower in India, gulkand, kewra, or even ittars would not be possible without the humble rose. The delicious flower is also packed with medicinal properties.
Flavor: sweet and fruity
Best used in: sweets, desserts, salads, and teas
Bright and sunny, the marigolds are available in practically every Indian household during the festive season. These sunshine flowers are also known for their medicinal properties.
Flavor: subtle peppery with bitter undertones
Best used in: cocktails, cakes, salads, and teas
The pumpkin is a popular Indian vegetable but its flowers are equally delicious. These delicate, funnel-shaped squash or pumpkin blossoms are packed with antioxidants.
Flavor: Mild squash like taste
Best used in: stuffed and batter fried, or thoran
Pansies and Violas
The velvety texture of pansies and violas is a welcome addition to summer salads and cakes. Available in a riot of colors, they are good for your heart too.
Flavor: sweet, minty, grassy
Best used in: garnish for cakes, desserts, salads, and soups
Another summer favorite, calendula petals add summer freshness to your salads and bakes. It is also used as a natural food color. Furthermore, it has immense skincare benefits.
Flavor: minty and grassy with a hint of bitterness
Best used in: garnish for desserts and salads, teas
The brilliantly colored Nasturtium or Jalkumbhi flowers add a dash of color to your summer salads. The leaves are edible too and are an excellent alternative to watercress. What’s more, they are packed with nutrients.
Flavor: peppery and citrusy
Best used in: salads and meats
You are probably well aware of the herbal benefits of chamomile tea. A resource of health benefits, these daisy-like flowers can be eaten raw, dried, fried, or steeped.
Flavor: sweet herbal
Best used in: teas, salad dressing, bakes
Hibiscus or shoe flowers are a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants. These seasonal medicinal flowers and their leaves are a popular addition to your diet.
Flavor: Citrusy with a hint of bitterness
Best used in: teas, jams, salad garnish
Popularly known as drumstick, each part of the miracle tree moringa is edible – leaves, fruits, flowers, and even roots. Having been used for centuries in India, the superfood has finally got its due.
Flavor: earthy, mushroom-like
Best used in: garnish, teas, and fritters
One of the most versatile trees, mahua or butternut tree is known for its medicinal properties. The fleshy flowers with an intoxicating sweet fragrance are high in sugar content.
Flavor: sweet and caramel-like when dried
Best used in: oils, jams, breads, and country liquor
Papayas are available across the country and are one of the most affordable fruits. Slightly bitter in taste, the stir-fried papaya blossoms are a local delicacy of Nagaland in North East India.
Flavor: slightly bitter
Best used in: stir fries
Fragrant and delicate, the jasmine flower is rich in antioxidants and has been used in fragrances and teas for centuries. The aromatic, pale-yellow flower is also a welcome addition to gourmet baking.
Flavor: sweet, floral, and delicate
Best used in: teas, bakes, garnish, and stir-fries
The Indian kitchen needs no introduction to the banana blossoms. Also known as banana hearts and loaded with nutrients, they are eaten both raw and cooked.
Flavor: neutral with a hint of bitternes
Best used in: curries, fritters, and stir fried
A fragrant flower and an aromatic herb, lavenders have been used for generations for their medicinal benefits. English lavender or culinary lavender also make a great addition to your bakes.
Flavor: floral with hints of mint and bitterness
Best used in: cocktails, teas, and bakes
Resembling the face of a dragon with a flavor reminiscent of chicory, snapdragons are an acquired taste. Available in a rainbow of colors, they are served both as a garnish or stuffed.
Flavor: neutral with a hint of tarty bitterness
Best used in: garnish or salads
If you thought chrysanthemums were only limited to decorative flowers, think again. Similar to chamomile, these flowers are rich in antioxidants and minerals and popular as teas, both dried and fresh.
Flavor: sweet and grassy
Best used in: teas, salads, and garnish
If you are looking for a sweet and spicy edible flower, carnations are the best pick for you. A flavoring agent or a decorative garnish, they are one of the most versatile edible flowers.
Flavor: sweet spicy with a hint of pepper
Best used in: cake decoration, wine, salads, and meats
Known for its medicinal properties, both the flowers and the tubers of dahlia are edible. Segmented or compound, these vibrant flowers are available in a range of colors.
Flavor: depends on soil and condition grown in
Best used in: petals in garnish and salads
Available in a rainbow of hues from pink to burgundy, dianthus is both fragrant and flavorful. Eaten whole or just the petals, they are a great way to liven up your food.
Flavor: sweet spicy clove-like with a hint of tartness
Best used in: garnish, desserts, salads, and cocktails
Lilacs smell much better than they taste. Belonging to the olive family and with a few medicinal properties, these blossoms can be consumed both raw and cooked.
Flavor: floral and citrusy
Best used in: cake decorations, bakes, and infusions
How to use edible flowers
Here are some tips you need to keep in mind when using edible flowers
- Always try using organic flowers.
- When using fresh flowers, wash them well and refresh them in cold water. Pat dry before using.
- Harvest edible flowers in the early morning.
- Not all parts of a flower are edible. When in doubt, stick to petals and avoid using leaves or stems.
- When purchasing edible flowers, look for ones that have just bloomed.
- Freeze small whole flowers or petals into ice cubes to add color to your summer drinks.
- Store dried flowers in an airtight container for a longer shelf life.
Now that you are well-versed with edible flowers, unleash your creativity and let your imagination fly. I would love to check out your recipes. Remember to share your pics and don’t forget to tag me.