Edible Flowers, grown and gathered.

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I’m so happy to bring you some great info on edible flowers today! Edible flowers are an instant party starter in my opinion. They bring colour, fun and glam to almost any dish. Throw some nasturtiums over a baked potato, or some lavender in a dessert, and you have immediate pretty and uniqueness! They can also be used therapeutically, and in practice I regularly use liquid herbs made from some varieties along with their leaves/roots – in particular calendula (marigold), dandelion, lavender, chamomile, marshmallow, and fennel.

A few months ago I met the gorgeous Lentil and Matt from Grown and Gathered – pictured below. Together they run a small farm in country Victoria, and share their wonderful, unique harvest of vegetables, herbs, cut and edible flowers, and even home-made bread with Melbourne each week.  My favourite part is their ‘flower exchange’, where you are encouraged to bring something to exchange for some cut flowers (if you want to!).

I am so happy to bring you some insight and wisdom from Lentil on edible flowers – what to look out for, and how to grow them yourself.

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Lentil says:

So, what’ s edible?

CAUTION: To eat flowers, they need to be organic – flowers are often sprayed with all kinds of chemicals not intended for food, especially if they are imported. Many common flowers are also extremely poisonous, including: lily of the valley, daphne, foxgloves, anemone, daffodils, iris and sweet pea pods. So please don’t start eating your everyday supermarket flower or flowers you can’t identify as edible.

There are hundreds of edible flowers, most commonly used for a combination effect, adding texture, flavour and “style” a dish.

Some of the most commonly grown and used flowers include: roses, chamomile, herb flowers (basil, chives, dill, ), vegetable flowers (parsnip, onion, garlic, leek, fennel, zucchini ), violas, nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula, and borage. There are also a few edible weeds with flowers, such as wood sorrel, marshmallow weed and dandelion.

Generally, if they come from a herb, they taste like that herb and if they come from a vegetable, they taste similar to that vegetable – but with a more intense in flavour. Otherwise, they all largely vary in flavour profiles – nasturtiums are peppery and punchy, violas are vanillin with a lettuce-like bitterness, and borage tastes like cucumber.

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Our favourites:

–  Cornflowers (also called bachelor buttons). They come in so many colours and are great as both a cut and edible flower with a subtle flavour that has a hint of clove and thistle – actually a perfect garnish for desserts.

– The good ol’ Nasturtium, you can find them everywhere if you are looking and they are perfect for a salad.

Growing your own

Growing edible flowers is fun, you can use them as cut flowers, you can eat them, and the bees love them. We find that the best way to grow things is to move with the seasons.

The secret is getting your seeds in at the right time so that the plant has enough time to grow and become prolific, e.g. if the plant flowers in summer, you may need to put the seed in the ground in spring. Read your seed packets carefully for details.

Be sure to buy good seed! If you don’t, you will find it difficult to germinate your seeds, try: Eden seeds (www.edenseeds.com.au)

This is also one of my favourite websites, with a great edible flower guide http://www.eattheweeds.com/edible-flowers-part-one/

Thanks for reading. Happy planting. Lentil x

Thank you Lentil and Matt for sharing your knowledge, and for creating such a lovely community of sharing and celebrating produce, knowledge and joy.

 

Aside from adding edible flowers to salads, or decorating desserts, breakfasts and the like {see my Pretty Potato Salad as an example}, I love to freeze them as I have above to use in drinks and cocktails! I also use them in my fermented beverages too, but more on that later. Enjoy! x

Photo credit for 2nd and 3rd images: Hilary Walker Photography