When flowers come to mind, it is common to think about how aesthetically pleasing or aromatic they are. However, many do not affiliate flowers as a potential culinary ingredient. Cooking with flowers is not a new trend as they have been a staple ingredient in Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. However, these delicate ingredients have been revitalized and are making a comeback to the dinner table!
Popular culinary uses for flowers include garnishing, pigmenting, and flavoring. Below are a few that are frequently and safely consumed:
- Calendula- What we commonly identify as marigold and is culinary known as “poor man’s saffron” as it tastes similarly to saffron. Only the petals are edible and recipe pairings include deviled eggs, soups, salads, and herbed butter.
skin inflammation as well as promote wound healing (Petrova, Petkova, &
Ivanov, 2016). When analyzed with other edible flowers, calendulas also hold
the most antioxidant potential because of its high flavonol content (Gonzalez-
Barrio, García-Valverde, Bautista-Ortín, & Periago, 2015).
- Chrysanthemum- While tangy and bitter, chrysanthemum makes for a delicious tea when the dried blossoms are steeped (a personal favorite of mine)!
potentially treat hypertension and inflammation due to a large quantity of
potassium (Rop, Mlcek, Jurikova, Neugebauerova, & Vabkova, 2012).
- Pansies- Cool and minty, pansies pair well with fruit salads and desserts.
amounts of anthocyanins which be visibly noted with their deep red and blue
pigmentation (Benvenuti, Bortolotti, & Maggini, 2016). The outside is
reflected from the inside.
- Violets- Aside from its vibrant hue, violets are known for their pleasant sweet and floral notes. Pop them into iced drinks or candy them into embellishments for desserts.
known as cyclotides which exude an immunosuppressive effect to fight cancer
cell growth (Hellinger et al., 2014).
Generally speaking, edible wild plants carry great nutraceutical potential due to their abundance of fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and bioactive compounds which can help prevent manifestation of chronic diseases (Ranfa & Bodesmo, 2017). Because of its demonstrated benefits to human health, edible flowers should be considered for regular human consumption as they are incredibly nutrient-dense given their mass. It is quite remarkable to see that edible flowers provide both form and function so the next time you see a flower, think of all the potential it could hold!
Benvenuti, S., Bortolotti, E., & Maggini, R. (2016). Antioxidant power, anthocyanin content and
organoleptic performance of edible flowers. Scientia Horticulturae, 199, 170-177.
Hellinger, R., Koehbach, J., Fedchuk, H., Sauer, B., Huber, R., Gruber, C., & Grundemann, C.
(2014). Immunosuppressive activity of an aqueous Viola tricolor herbal extract. J
Ethnopharmacol, 151(1), 299-306. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.10.044
Navarro-Gonzalez, I., Gonzalez-Barrio, R., García-Valverde, V., Bautista-Ortin, A. B., &
Periago, M.J. (2015). Nutritional composition and antioxidant capacity in edible flowers:
Characterization of phenolic compounds by HPLC-DAD-ESI/MSn. International Journal
of Molecular Sciences, 16(1), 805-822. doi: 10.3390/ijms160108054
Petrova, I., Petkova, N., & Ivanov, I. (2016). Five edible flowers- valuable source of antioxidants
in human nutrition. International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical
Research, 8(4), 604-610.
Ranfa, A., & Bodesmo, M. (2017). An ethnobotanical investigation of traditional knowledge and
uses of edible wild plants in the Umbria region, Central Italy. Journal of Applied Botany
and Food Quality, 90, 246-258. doi: 10.5073/JABFQ.2017.090.031
Rop, O., Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Neugebauerova, J., & Vabkova, J. (2012). Edible flowers- a
new promising source of mineral elements in human nutrition. Molecules, 17,
6672-6683. doi: 10.3390/molecules17066672