Food for the Eyes

Guava paste with edible flowers. Serve with chips or saltine crackers.

Hibiscus flowers give Red Zinger tea its gorgeous red color and a pop of lemony-cranberry flavor. It can also be placed at the bottom of a champagne flute for an extra touch. A common flavor in the Caribbean, Hibiscus is found at Tops in Buffalo, NY’s Westside.

Chamomile tea is lightly apple in flavor and known for its calming abilities. Daylilies, a common ingredient in Chinese cookery, are especially evident in hot and sour soup. Most eaters don’t realize they have enjoyed the wonderful flavors and colors of edible flowers, according to an Edible Flower class at Urban Roots in Buffalo, NY.

It isn’t recommended that you eat flowers if suffering from allergies or hay fever, but City Girl Country survived this class by taking a Claritin prior to attending.

Flowers are a beautiful addition to ice cubes, drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts. They dress up any meal, making it “happy food” as Leo Buscaglia, psychologist said. Just looking at flowers can make us smile.

Rule for eating flowers

  • If you don’t know if the flowers are edible, do not eat them
  • Don’t eat flowers from the roadside. They contain automobile emissions
  • Only eat petals
  • Just like spices, flavor is more potent in flower petals when they are dried

To be safe, edible flowers can be purchased pre-packaged (Wegman’s in Amherst sells five blossoms for $2). However, for more variety and a larger quantity, grow your own! Some planting suggestions, let parsley and chives live together, and violets and cabbage can be neighbors.

English lavender is not just for sachets in dressers. A common flower to use in drinks and food is lavender. Soak petals in boiling water, and stir in lemonade mix for a flavorful and bountiful, refreshing glass of pink lemonade. Garnish with a slice of lemon. For recipes, refer to

Apple blossoms are edible

Lavender can also be used in chilled vodka for added flavor.

Edible flower petals can also be frozen into an ice bowl (a nesting bowl is needed) to chill salads, fruit or dessert.

Paint egg whites on cookies or cheese to hold flowers, or dip lilacs in egg white and fine sugar, and place on top of a cupcake. Include Pansies in spring rolls to create “trapped” flowers and a beautiful wrap.

Edible flowers from the backyard or a container garden can be cleaned with a paintbrush to dust off bugs or dirt. To get rid of any possible pesticides, soak in salt water (it is recommended not to eat flowers from commercial nurseries).

Other edible flowers

Chive flower


Johnny Jump Up



For additional reading

Edible Flowers: 25 recipes and an A-Z pictorial directory of culinary flora (Anness) by Kathy Brown

Published by

Michelle Glynn

Traded globe-trotting for motherhood. Side hustling as a freelance writer since 2001.

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