(The Gist of Science Reporter) Edible Flowers: Adding a Dash of Flavour [JUNE-2019]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Edible Flowers: Adding a Dash of Flavour [JUNE-2019]

Edible Flowers: Adding a Dash of Flavour

  • Edible flowers have been used as culinary herbs since long. Edible flowers can also complement a cut flower or herb business, providing additional opportunities for valueadded products. Currently, there is increased demand for fresh and good quality flowers for human consumption worldwide.
  • Many flowers are edible and the flowers of most culinary herbs are safe. Edible flowers are often used for their taste, colour, and fragrance. Many herbal flowers have the same flavour as their leaves, while others such as chamomile, mint and lavender blossoms, have a subtle flavour.
  • Using flowers as a part of cookery enhances the aesthetic appearance of food increasing the appetite by providing colour, taste, aroma and flavour. Flowers, as a natural resource, have been attracting more and more attention owing to their great potential values of natural antioxidants and scavenging activity of reactive oxygen radicals.
  • Being rich source of anthocyanins, flowers are correlated with higher levels of total flavonoids and are also packed full of vitamins and minerals (e.g. rose petals contain Vitamin C). However, proper identification is essential because some flowers are poisonous and should not be eaten. Many popular flowers such as foxglove, lantana, periwinkle, and marsh marigolds are poisonous.


  • Pick flowers early in the day and at their full bloom for best flavour.
  • Remove pollen-bearing parts before using in dishes.
  • Avoid unopened blossoms (except daylilies) and wilted or faded flowers because they may have a bitter or unappealing flavour.
  • Not all flowers are edible; some may be poisonous, bitter or allergic.
  • Plants exposed to viral and fungal pathogens and those sprayed with pesticides are not appropriate for consumption.
  • Avoid flowers that have been exposed to untreated animal manure or undecomposed organic manure.
  • Generally avoid purchasing flowers from florists, garden centres or nurseries. These flowers are not grown for consumption.

How to Use Edible Flowers?

  • Try a small quantity of the new flowers yourself to avoid stomach upset or to determine if there is an allergic reaction.
  • Edible petals (Calendula, Chrysanthemum, Lavender, Rose, Tulip) or entire flowers (Drumstick, Agathi) can be consumed. However, remove stems, anthers and pistils because they may be bitter. The white base of the petal in flowers like chrysanthemums, dianthus, marigolds, and roses may have a bitter taste and should be removed from flowers.
  • Many edible flowers are high in vitamin C and/or vitamin A, along with other essential nutrients (Rose petals and hips).
  • Use edible flowers as garnishes in dishes and in salads.
  • Edible flowers can be used in fallowing recipes: baking, sauces, jelly, syrup, vinegars, honey, oil, tea, flowerscented sugars, candied flowers, wine and flavoured liquors.
  • Flavoured vinegars and oils prepared al home have a limited shelf-life and should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Pick the flowers, rinse gently with running water and place between damp paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cultivation Practices of Edible Flowers

  • Cultural requirements: The cultural requirements for edible flowers are very similar to those of ornamental flowers. In general, edible flowers prefer fertile, well-drained soil and full sun throughout the day.
  • Growing plants in raised beds will improve drainage, reduce diseases and increase ease of harvest. A good pulverized soil with well decomposed organic matter is must for planting.
  • Harvest and storage: Fully opened edible flowers are harvested in the cool of the day during the peak of bloom. Only flowers free of insect and disease problems should be selected.
  • To maintain freshness, flowers should be cooled immediately after harvest. The stems, sepals, pistils, and stamens of most flowers are removed prior to use.
  • Pollen may detract from the flower’s flavour and may cause allergies in some people. The sepals should be removed from all flowers except violas, pansies, and Viola tricolor. In many flowers (including rose, lavender, tulip, calendula, and chrysanthemum) only the petals are edible.
  • If the petals have a white base, this area should be removed as it may have a bitter taste. For example, chrysanthemum, dianthus, marigold, and rose have bitter petal bases.

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Courtesy: Science Reporter