Gardens in Southeastern Pennsylvania can be made beautiful by adding edible components such as herbs, edible flowers and vegetables. These delights can add aroma and decor, all while serving a purpose- to eat! Don't miss out on making your garden an edible one this spring, summer and fall!
Adding Edible Flowers
For years people have been using edible flowers to add culinary delight and magic to what would otherwise be just a boring plate. Teas and other drinks are also known for their use of flowers. Using edible flowers as garnish makes a plate beautiful, but also allows the enjoyer to taste new flavors.
But, as with most new things in life, there are a few rules of thumb when creating and enjoying an edible landscape:
1. Keep in mind what is edible and what is not! There are plenty of places to find resources for what types of plants and flowers are edible and what are not. For a complete list, refer to a reputable guidebook that will help you navigate through what is and what is not safe to eat. We have included a partial list of edible flowers and plants, however, for a much more extensive list, consult a proper guidebook!
2. Eat only the parts of the flower that is edible. This seems like a no-brainer, but just because a flower is deemed edible, doesn't mean that the entire plant or even flower is edible. Stick with only the petals and leave the other parts. Remove pistils and stamens before eating.
3. Keep picked flowers fresh! Before consuming, make sure that your bounty is kept fresh by placing them on a moist paper towel and refrigerating them in an airtight container. You can revitalize flowers by placing them in an ice water bath. If flowers are limp or worse, do not eat! Some flowers will last for over a week if kept properly.
4. No pesticides or herbicides! Do not include pesticides or herbicides in your own landscape design if incorporating edibles, and make sure you know what you are consuming if you go elsewhere. Do not eat roadside flowers as they may contain pesticides or herbicides that you don't know about. Only eat from sources that you are sure of. Pesticides and/or herbicides should never be consumed!
5. Allergies If you have allergies to plants or foods start small! Edible flowers and plants may aggravate your allergies so proceed with caution.
Which Flowers Should I Start With?
For a complete list of flowers, always use a reputable guidebook to help you navigate the process of growing and eating edible flowers, including how to cook with them and how to properly pair them with different foods.
To get you started, here is a short list of just a few of the more popular edible flowers that come from plants and herbs. Check out the list and see if there are any that you would like to experiment with this season:
Allium- Allium includes leeks, chives and garlic and are very edible. Each and every part of these plants is edible so make sure you incorporate the entire plant into your cooking.
Arugula- Arugula has a peppery flavor. The leaves and the flower are edible.
Basil- Blossoms come in a variety of colors and the flavor is similar to the leaves.
Carnations- The petals are sweet, but should be trimmed away from the base. The blossoms taste like their aroma- sweet.
Chamomile- The chamomile flowers are used in tea and have a sweet flavor.
Chrysanthemum- Otherwise known as mums, chrysanthemums come in a wide variety of colors and a range of flavors. Only the petals are edible.
Cilantro- Cilantro flowers are very much like the leaves. They are best when fresh- not heated.
Dill- The yellow dill flowers taste similar to the herb.
Hibiscus- Used in hibiscus tea, the tart cranberry flavor is delicious to some.
Jasmine- Used in both tea and sweet dishes.
Lavender- Perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.
Lilac- A beautiful flower, but watch out for the pungent blooms!
Marigold- A great flower for eating- vibrant color and great tasting.
Mint- The mint flower is minty! It tastes similar to the leaves.
Nasturtium- Nasturtium is one of the most popular of the edible flowers. They are brilliantly colored with a sweet, floral flavor and spicy pepper finish.
Oregano- Oregano flowers are very similar to the leaf part of the plant.
Pansy- Pansies are a popular flower to use for desserts. Most likely because of their beauty.
Radish- Radish flowers vary in color and have a peppery taste.
Rose- All roses are edible, with more pronounced flavors with darker varieties.
Rosemary- Flowers taste like a milder version of the herb.
Sage- Flowers from sage have a flavor similar to the leaves.
Squash- Blossoms are perfect for stuffing and frying.
Sunflower- The petals from sunflowers are edible.
Violets- Violets are floral and sweet- beautiful as garnishes.