Edible flowers are a great addition to your summer garden. Easy to grow and a delight to the eye, they're fresh and fun and add a creative touch to your meals. The list of flowers that work well as food is long, and might include some that you wouldn't think of. For example, the flowers of many herbs are fully edible, and have flavours reminiscent of the culinary herbs they come from. Some edible herb flowers include chive, savoury, chervil, dill, basil, chamomile and fennel. Herb flowers are particularly good paired with meat dishes. Picking the flowers when young and in the early bloom stage ensures they are tender and full of flavour and aroma. As the flowers age, they will get tougher and drier. I recently learned that young sunflower buds can be steamed and served like globe artichokes. Now who doesn't want to try that?!
Some of the most common garden vegetables also produce delicious edible flowers. The entire brassica family is notable for this. Mustard, broccoli, tatsoi, arugula, bekana and mizuna are all examples of brassica plants that produce delicious flower shoots. They can be picked in the early bud stage, or at full flower. If you've never seen these plants in flower it's because they are usually picked in their vegetative stage for typical culinary use. Leave a few plants to grow a little longer in the garden however, and you will soon see the flower shoots emerge. That's when you'll discover a new world of edible flower possibilities.
The squash family is also notable for it's edible flowers. Be sure to leave female flowers to be pollinated and bear fruit, but feel free to harvest many of the male flowers and use them in a number of ways. While in Mexico, where squash blossoms have been on the diet for centuries, I had opportunity to try them as stuffed and lightly battered fried blossoms, as well as in quesadillas where they were paired with another traditional Mexican delicacy, corn smut. Still not sure how to prepare those squash blossoms? Here's some ideas, http://www.seasonalchef.com/recipes/squash-blossom-recipes/
By far the most common edible flowers, however, come from favourite garden ornamentals like calendula, bachelor buttons, marigold, borage or nasturtium. And that's just for starters. Edible flowers are great for enhancing the appeal of just about any dish you serve. They're beautiful to look at and come in a range of interesting shapes, tastes and textures. They're equally good as part of an entree, salad or dessert, or just as a garnish. Some are used fresh, others can be dried and used like a culinary herb. Make sure you only eat flowers from your own (or a trusted friend's) organic garden, as otherwise you might unwittingly eat traces of pesticide.
Have we convinced you yet? Stellar Seeds carries a range of edible flower seeds, and to make it easy we have two great edible flower collections to choose from. Our Edible Herb Flower Collection and our Edible Flower Collection. Look for them under the "Seed Collections" tab of our website. Plant some today and empower your flower! They're not just to look at.