Edible Flowers you can Forage

 

Dandelions haven’t been so much fun since Mama had a baby and her head popped off.

 

edible-flowers-new

 

edible-flowers

 

Foraging, if you hadn’t heard, is the new repurposing. Going out and finding ingredients for your dinner either in the woods, your front lawn or … if conditions are right, your neighbours back lawn.

Most foraging takes research, education, some professional guidance, and let’s face it … bravery. It takes a brave soul to a) rumble around the bush with all it’s spiders and such, looking for an edible mushroom or leaf. Because spiders are scary. Of course there’s the whole, if you pick the wrong plant you might poison yourself thing too. I’m much more frightened of the spiders.

But. I wanted to forage. I’m nothing if not willing to jump on every single food/farming bandwagon that comes along. In fact, I’m so into bandwagoning that if you are on that bandwagon and there’s no more room for me, I will jump up on the bandwagon, shove you off, stamp on your hands as you hold on for dear life and laugh, hands raised over my head, as you tumble down the dirt road until you’re nothing but a faraway spot with  hair.

So this foraging business.  It got me to thinking, if it seemed like kind of a pain and a bit risky to me … the wild child of the farm world … what must others think of it?  I’m totally going to learn how to forage, but I needed an immediate fix.  So I got my research cap on and went searching around the big, fat liar of an Internet to see what I had right around my house that could be eaten this very moment.

I found a lot.

And chances are if you have a regular type garden with pretty common flowers YOU have a lot in your flower garden you can eat too.

So, after researching I set out with a pair of scissors, a baggie and a set of teeth and a tongue.  The baggie was borrowed (from my mom), the teeth and tongue were my own.

As you probably know by now, I can’t present you with anything, or recommend anything that I haven’t tired myself.  So I gathered up all the flowers, sat down and ate em.

Here are my findings:

Nasturtium:  Not a lot of flavour, definitely wouldn’t overpower any dish.  Peppery with a hint of nutty sweetness.  Beautiful flower for putting in salad or on an open faced sandwich as well as garnish.

Dandelion: Again not a lot of flavour, but there is some flavour there. Like plant basically. Others recommend pulling the petals off and scattering them over rice which I think would work well.

Rose:  Roses taste like … roses. Honestly.  Probably best on a dessert item and garnish for cakes.  The white part in larger petals can be bitter.

Impatiens:  These were among my favourites.  They’re actually meaty and almost have the flavour of arugula without any bitterness.  Would be FANTASTIC in salads.  But go for rustic, not cutsey please.  Oh hell.  Do whatever you want.  It’s your salad.

Thyme Flowers:  Very strong flavour of thyme.  Use wherever you would use thyme.  Would be really nice as a garnish sprinkled over a stew or any soup that has thyme cooked into it.

Squash Blossom:  Very mild squash flavour.  Beautiful smooth, velvety texture.  Nice raw, but watch for a fried squash blossom recipe coming up soon.

Phlox:  Surprisingly strong floral taste.   Good for fruit salads.  Only the perennial phlox is edible.  Those are the ones that come up every year and are about 3 feet tall.

Tuberous Begonia:  These were my hands down favourite.  The flower petals have an incredibly strong lemony taste.  Sort of a cross between rhubarb and lemon.  The stalks and stems taste almost exactly like rhubarb, but a bit brighter tasting.  It’s that undertone of lemon.  Use anywhere you want a punch of sour lemon flavour like salads, fish, garnish.  They’d be beautiful floating in a glass of lemonade.  Begonias should not be eaten by anyone with gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism. 

 

Obviously this isn’t a complete list of edible flowers.  These are just the edible flowers  I found around my garden or my mother’s garden.  Here’s a good source I found with lists of edible flowers if you’re interested in learning more.

Now come on!  Hop on the foraging bandwagon with me.  Honestly.  I’m willing to shove off anyone necessary to make room for ya.

note: don’t eat any flowers unless you’re sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticide. Or urine. Duh.


48 Comments

  1. Gayla T says:

    What’s the deal? You usually post in the wee small hours of the morning. My mother-in-law was a great one for going out and picking stuff to eat and I learned to like a lot of greens that she picked. DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS unless you are with an experienced hunter and then look them up in a book. I have a friend whose brother thought he knew what the good ones look like and actually died. Evidently they completely destroy your liver past any hope of repair. He was a very smart guy,too. They say that anything that looks like what you buy in the store is dangerous picked in the wild. There have been some deaths in Europe lately because ones that were safe have mutated from polution and are deadly. I know Morels and Red Heads and that’s it. I had heard Red Heads were safe and picked and ate them w/out looking them up but I sure would not now. Older and wiser. Or more scared. I’ve done roses, nasturtiums ans squash but I’m going to trust you and go taste my begonias and impatiens. I’ll let you know if I like them.

    • Karen says:

      Gayla – What you mean, what’s the deal? I always post at midnight. Always, always. Have you been eating mushrooms? Certain, not normally found in the wild, mushrooms? I think, just to be safe, you should look in the mirror. Do you see yourself? Or do you see Cher? Or the smoke monster from Lost maybe. You should check. Just to be safe. ~ karen!

      • Gayla T says:

        It usually posts at 1 pm my time and it’s only 11 pm. I try not to spend time looking in a mirror as I keep seeing my mother. She’s been dead for years so I don’t know how she is running around my house and in every mirror I go past. I tasted my flowers. The impatiens tasted like nothing but the begonias were lemony good. I have the little pink ones with maroon leaves and they were very tasty. So,now you have me folling your trend. That makes you a trend setter. Wooo Hooo! Way to go!

    • Christina says:

      Wow, Gayla, calm down! I’m a cautious but enthusiastic and experienced mushroom hunter, and I have to say yes! You SHOULD educate yourself! But it is entirely possible to make a positive ID based on a mushroom’s appearance, habitat, and spore print. And if you’re still not sure – well, don’t eat it. Even if the mushroom’s fine you’ll make yourself sick with worry. The Puget Sound Mycological Society is one excellent resource: http://www.psms.org/edibility.php

    • Shauna says:

      I agree about the mushrooms. My Dad who is a very experienced cook and general know it all;) almost killed the whole family (minus me) due to his thinking he knew what he was picking. Only because a Doctor friend happened to come by and saw how sick everyone was and called an ambulance was everyone okay. My Dad had to get his stomach pumped. Luckily, my Mom and little brother hardly ate any so they were just puking sick, not quite as deathly sick as my Dad was.

  2. Marie-Louise says:

    Thanx for a very interesting post! Just for some additional info, Nasturtiums are a fantastic natural anti-biotic especially for upper resperitory infections. So chew 2 to 3 Nasturtium leaves 3 times a day and I assure you your chest cold will be gone almost immediately. Dandelions brewed into a tea helps for blood cleansing and renal infections.
    I have turned my whole garden into a medicinal/edible garden, and I seldom go to the doctor for meds anymore. Just harvest, brew/chew, and Bob’s your Auntie. 🙂

  3. Rhonda "SmartyPants" says:

    Well, now I’m confused — your post says Begonias should be eaten by those with gout, kidney stones, and rheumatism; your link says they should NOT be eaten — Oops?! Once you get the difference squared away, I will grant you Most Beautiful Edible Flower Post award because those pictures are plain ol’ beautiful. Thanks for all you do – even the bandwagon invitation was a thoughtful touch.

  4. Love the Lost reference again! If you lived closer, I’d pop right on over with some rose petal jam for you to try! A bit floral-y but surprisingly tasty.

  5. Krikit says:

    Lots of fun, flower eating. ~:)

    I also enjoy my Lavender, Ornamental Garlic, and Chive flowers. I use no pesticides…and I’m careful where I pee. ~;0)

  6. Pansies. We eat them every day with my kid. There are differences between petal colors. My personal faves are indigo and dark red leaves. They smell perfume-y and give a sweet taste on a delicately tangy side. Plus the petals feel velvety between the choppers. I toss the petals on salads, dishes, shove them between my sandwiches etc. Heaps of antioxidants and the works.
    Highly recommended.

  7. Sean Lewis says:

    I’m sure Karen meant Begonias should NOT be eaten by anyone with gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism.

  8. Laura Bee says:

    Begonias should be eaten by anyone with gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism? Whoops, had to google that one. Great post otherwise 🙂

  9. Tigersmom says:

    “or recommend anything I haven’t tired myself”

    It’s good to know that you’re going to wear those flowers out before you ask us to take them on.; )But you’re just considerate like that.

    I eagerly await the fried squash blossom recipe (not that I am necessarily capable of reproducing it). I had them once in a tempura batter and they were like the most lightly textured wonderful popcorny deliciousness.

  10. Melissa says:

    If you like lemony flavor, go for sorrel. While not technically an edible flower, the early leaves of spring sorrel should not be missed in – what we refer to at our house as – yard salad. What, and no mention of day lilies? Never mind that small percentage of people who get ill from them; they probably will get belly aches from begonias, too. Wusses!

  11. Jillian says:

    Last week I made the most awesome dish from Sorrel, Lamb’s quarter and Dandelion all from my back yard. Highly nutritious and yummy.
    Recipe:
    Melt duck fat (or butter & olive oil) in a wide, deep frying pan.
    Mince onions & garlic (or just one), caramelize in fat/oil
    Pile in the greens (can use kale, swiss chard, collards but adjust cooking to texture of the type of green). It will seem like a lot but will wilt down to almost nothing.
    Add chicken or bone broth, seasoned salt and just a bit of balsamic butter.
    To change it up can use bacon & bacon fat, you know the Southern way but make sure you have homemade corn bread to go with it!
    When wilted and tender and broth is absorbed, it’s ready to serve!

  12. Melanie says:

    “Begonias should be eaten by anyone with gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism.” Is this right? Is it the 11th commandment? It is worded like it should be the opposite. I have had kidney stones and would love it if they could be treated with begonias!

  13. JebberA says:

    Day lillies are edible too. My nephews go and eat them out of grandma’s garden.

  14. I can’t believe this! I was out foraging yesterday morning!
    Rose petals, to be precise, to make rose petal jam, which is just done!
    Yay, how do you think begonia petal jam would go down?
    And a thyme flower or two on top of a ramekin of home made chicken liver pate (sorry Karen!), over the clarified butter, looks fab!
    I’m on that bandwagon for sure, at least till the next person comes along and Karen kicks me off!

  15. Natika33 says:

    I’m with Gayla – I would never pick wild mushrooms myself. There are several varieties that are nearly immediately fatal, a few that let you live for a few days while your liver slowly shuts down completely and a few that can make you just very unpleasantly ill. There’s even one type that is totally harmless to eat unless you combine it with alcohol – in which case you’ll likely hallucinate and be sick for awhile then recover, but not without the threat of permanent liver damage. Yay!

    Flowers, however, are a different story. I want to try them too! Yay for more followers!

  16. A few years back, pansies were served with a salad when I went to The Globe restaurant near Alliston, Ontario. It’s an old inn. There used to be two inns but the owner of The Globe stood with her shotgun at the “town” pump so the competition could not put out their fire and the other inn burned to the ground. If you’d been around in the 1800s Karen, I’d bet she’d have pushed you off the band wagon Karen. Or perhaps just a kindred soul and you two would have rode around shoving people off the wagon all day. 🙂

  17. Langela says:

    I haven’t tried flowers, yet. I’m happy to leave the flowers on the plant, looking pretty. However, I do forage from the wild. Choke cherries, gooseberries, elderberries, and blackberries are some of what I’ve tried. I thought of trying the elderberry flowers, but didn’t get to them in time this year.

  18. Seb says:

    Stuffed squash blossoms is a famous dish in Turkey especially in the Aegean area and they’re delicious..

  19. Tracy says:

    Hi Karen,
    Your timing is perfect. I have overplanted yellow squash in my garden and am eyeballing the blossoms. I am assuming that any blossoms I pick will end th develpoment of a squash in that spot, but I think I have some to spare. Do I just pinch them off?

    Also, how does one harvest beet greens without damaging the beet? Inquiring minds want to know….

    • Karen says:

      Tracy – Just harvest the “male blossoms”. Those are the ones on the long stem, that doesn’t have a bulby looking thing at the base of the blossom. Those don’t turn into squash, they’re just used to fertilize the female blossoms. For beet greens just take a few, young greens from each beet, as opposed to cutting the entire top off one beet. Good luck! ~ karen!

  20. Danielle says:

    Great post! I’ve never actually tried any of these things, but I keep schooling my Dad (who wants to napalm my yard with weed killer) about the edible nature of dandelions, of which I have more of than grass right now.

    Something in the neighbourhood has already eaten my impatiens this year. If they ever grow back, maybe I’ll try a nibble.

  21. Shirley says:

    Karen, that photograph would make a BEAUTIFUL poster!
    (Floral) food for thought …

  22. I have a sister/brother inlaw that excepted some wild mushrooms picked by a friend. Lets just say it made for a very interesting/trippy night! Lesson be very careful when excepting from others! LOL!
    http://www.dawnajonesdesign.com/

  23. tracy says:

    Who knew my squash plant was a hermaphrodite?! Thanks Karen!

  24. White says:

    Just so happens I started picking some “Poor Man’s Saffron” (Calendula) yesterday morning… I carefully ‘manage’ how much will grow, and where, because they re-seed and spread so easily. Of course, I have already indulged in chive blossoms, with other alliums on the horizon. All this hardly makes up for the near-total loss of my strawberry crop to drowning…(in a raised bed!!).

  25. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    We grow nasturtiums every year..they are very good in salad plus we just think they are pretty..we also have impatiens every year as they are so easy to grow and bloom into the Fall season..never tried eating them..will give them a try today..When I was little my Mom used to get me to pick Dandelion greens..she would make a bacon dressing for over them..it was very good..Thanks for the info Karen..I did not know some of those flowers were edible!!

  26. Rebecca says:

    Great post! Make room for me on the bandwagon! Also I thought you said “bagel” instead of baggie…guess that could work for an open faced sandwich with some Nasturtium, huh (eh)?

  27. Debbie says:

    Great Post, When talking about eating things in the forest I always think of a long ago Thanksgiving in Oregon. There where 4 people of which was an “expert mushroom picker” they took them home and cooked them. In the next 10 days all 4 had to have a liver transplant. That took care of me eating things in the wild till now. Now, since I have little boy dogs the whole pee thing is a problem. I have the fella in the house trained now, the dogs no such luck…………………….

  28. Evalyn says:

    Another distinction to make is the difference between mint and penny royal. Penny royal is of the mint family (square stemmed) but is used for insect repellant and should not be consumed as it can cause severe liver damage. Penny royal grows upright in dry uncultivated areas, most mint trails on the ground and likes moisture.

    I recommend Fat of the Land website for foraging adventures and receipes.

  29. hunter says:

    This is one tiny step more work than just the ‘pop off plan, put in mouth’ method, but well worth it. You can totally make simple syrup and infuse it with your flowers. We did it with sage flowers (the details are over here: http://www.violentlydomestic.com/2012/05/23/science/ ) and it made the BEST lemonade base ever in the history of eating. It may or man not also have found its way into an adult beverage or two. I wouldn’t know. Best of all…there’s a magic color transformation that happens with the sage syrup when it hits the acid of the lemon juice.

    Science and snacks, what more can you ask for!

  30. Rhonda "SmartyPants" says:

    Thank you.

  31. susan says:

    Actually, all parts of a nasturtium is edible. The leaves have a much stronger peppery/mustard-y flavor than the flowers. Once it goes to seed in the fall, the seeds are referred to as “poor man’s capers” especially if they are pickled (recipes all over the internet). I grow loads of them, since they are also varmint deterrents in the garden.

    Also edible (if not sprayed with pesicides, of course): lilacs, mums, violets, flowers of any herb (basil flowers are especially good)… the list is long.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan. Yes, I know. As I said in the post this isn’t an exhaustive list, just a rundown of what I had immediately available in my garden. – karen!

  32. Amanda says:

    When in China we ate battered and fried squash blossoms and lightly seasoned (soy sauce and sesame oil??) and stir fried elm pods. Both were deeeelish! Any recipes for sage brush and dead grass? Scrub oak? That’s about all we’ve got out here:(

  33. Pam says:

    Thanks for this post! You always make me laugh, and today I loved seeing this about edible flowers. You do for me what I’m too lazy to do, and that’s put the time and research in to find these things out. I have tea’s now and then, and have always wanted to include edible flowers. Thanks for gettin’ on that bandwagon for me!

  34. Sara says:

    You always give me a good laugh and today was no exception. Nothing like threatening violence over your latest obsession. Cheers!

  35. Olga says:

    I read the part about bandwagoning several times, At first I laughed then I thought that we have the same way of thinking, except your way of writing is way better, and then I tried to memorized that paragraph and screw the rest of it, because I just love bandwagoning!

  36. Cheryl Austin says:

    Enjoyed the post and the comments. Another surprising wild edible that I was served this summer was common milkweed pods. They were cut in halves or quarters, stir-fried and simmered several minutes with several other things–delicious!

  37. Margaret K. says:

    Pennyroyal is actually more trailing than most mints. If you are going to harvest from the “wild”, do your homework and be really sure what you are getting.
    Here in California, the poisonous Amanita mushroom is much more common than it used to be, so it has become easier to get the wrong one. The biggest medical challenge with mushroom poisoning is that the organ damage has started by the time you realize you are sick. That makes it hard to treat.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, this is just meant to be for foraging from the annuals you’ve planted in your yard. I definitely don’t condone mushroom hunting anywhere. Too difficult and dangerous. ~ karen!

  38. Vanessa Richardson says:

    The purple flowers from chives are great in salads instead of onion.

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