If you want maximum bang for your buck when it comes to what to plant in your garden, you can’t go past edible flowers.
Not only do you get a delicious edible addition to your home-prepared meals, but edible blooms also attract important garden pollinators such as bees and hoverflies, and they create a stunning array of colours and aromas in spring.
Edible flowers have been cultivated by different cultures for thousands of years.
Many people are often surprised to learn of the wide variety of flowers that are not only edible but can also add a complex savoury or sweet flavour to an array of dishes. They can be added to salads, cakes, desserts, drinks or used as a garnish.
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I recommend growing your own. Diggers has a great starting seed mix (diggers.com.au). You’ll get a mix of borage, calendula, nasturtiums, marigolds and cornflower. Your flowers will grow well in full sun in well-composted soil along garden borders, in raised beds or in pots.
Here are some of my favourites:
Borage: These five-pointed, translucent mauve flowers are sweet-tasting and perfect as a garnish for desserts and cakes or frozen in ice cubes with a G&T.
Pansy: Pansies have a mildly evergreen flavour and are lovely in a green salad.
Chamomile: Makes a perfect tea, especially at bedtime because it is caffeine-free.
Nasturtiums: Packed with spicy, peppery flavours. Pickle their seed pods and use them like capers.
Marigolds: Have a saffron-like flavour and are a wonderful warming, spicy addition to salads and savoury dishes.
Lavender: Sweet and floral, it can be dried and added to biscuits, cakes and ice-creams.
And don’t forget, the flowers of your garden herbs, such as basil, thyme, rosemary and coriander, are also edible.
If you decide to buy or forage for your flowers, here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Only eat flowers obtained from a reputable grower.
- Do not eat flowers from a florist or nursery. These have often been treated with harmful pesticides or chemicals and are not safe for consumption.
- Do not eat flowers growing along roadsides, in parks or in public gardens. They may have been affected by herbicides or pollution.
- If you are unsure of what the flower is, don’t eat it. Many flower varieties have visual similarities, but only a select few are edible.
- Consumption of edible flowers is not recommended for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Indira Naidoo co-hosts Sydney’s 2CH breakfast show with Trevor Sinclair from 6am-9am Monday-Friday.
Purchase copies of Indira Naidoo’s garden cookbooks The Edible Balcony and The Edible City at Dymocks.