Edible Flowers 101
(Information taken from Colorado State University)
Proper identification of edible flowers is important.
Use flowers that are grown without pesticides.
For best flavor, use flowers at their peak.
Introduce new flowers into the diet slowly to be able to pinpoint allergic reactions.
Edible flowers also may be preserved in oils or vinegars.
Pick flowers early in the day. Use them at their peak for the best flavor. Avoid unopened blossoms (except daylilies) and wilted or faded flowers. They may have a bitter or unappealing flavor. Do not use flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides, which often occur along roadsides, or collect flowers from plants that have been fertilized with untreated manure. Generally avoid purchasing flowers from florists, garden centers or nurseries. These flowers are not grown for consumption.
Fresh flowers also can be preserved for later use. Choose flowers with larger petals, such as pansies, and paint the petals with an egg-white wash. Use a soft brush and dehydrated egg whites to avoid food borne illness. These flowers are edible if the dehydrated egg powder has been pasteurized. After painting, dust the petal with super-fine granulated sugar and dry it. Store preserved flowers in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Avoid dark-colored petals; they turn even darker with this treatment.
Using Edible Flowers
To avoid stomach upset or to determine if there is an allergic reaction, try a small quantity of the new flowers yourself. Edible petals or entire flowers can be eaten. However, remove stems, anthers and pistils because they may be bitter. Use flowers that are free of insects and diseases.
Many edible flowers are high in vitamin C and/or vitamin A, along with other essential nutrients. Use them as garnishes and in salads. Recipes for flowers may be found in the following areas: baking, sauces, jelly, syrup, vinegars, honey, oil, tea, flower-scented sugars, candied flowers, wine and flavored liquors. Flavored vinegars and oils prepared at home have a limited shelf-life and should be stored in the refrigerator. Pick the flowers, gently with running water, rinse and place between damp paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use. Some varieties may last longer if not washed until they are ready to use. Some flowers may be dried and used as dried herbs.