Some dos and don’ts!
Following are some simple guidelines to keep in mind before you eat any type of flower:
Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible. If uncertain, consult a good reference book on edible flowers prior to consumption.
If pesticides are necessary, use only those products labeled for use on edible crops. No flowers is safe to eat unless it was grown organically.
Wash all flowers thoroughly before you eat them.
Introduce flowers into your diet in small quantities one species at a time. Too much of a good thing may cause problems for your digestive system.
Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Separate the flower petals from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum. Eat only the flower petals for most flowers except pansies violas, and Johnny-jump-ups (in which they add flavor).
If you have allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may aggravate some allergies.
Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops.
Do not eat flowers picked from the side of the road. Once again, possible herbicide use eliminates these flowers as a possibility for use.
Just because flowers are served with food served at a restaurant does not mean they are edible. Know your edible flowers – as some chefs do not. It’s easy and very attractive to use flowers for garnish on plates or for decoration, but avoid using non-edible flowers this way. Many people believe that anything on the plate can be eaten. They may not know if the flower is edible or not and may be afraid to ask.
Picking Edible Flowers:
Pick your flowers in the morning when their water content is at its highest.
Parts of the Flower To Eat:
Following information from the book, Edible Flowers – From Garden To Palate, by Cathy Wilkinson Barash:
Remove the stamens and styles from the flowers before eating. The pollen can detract from the flavor of the flower. In addition, the pollen may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Remove the sepals of all flowers except violas, Johnny-jump-ups, and pansies.
Only the petals of some flowers such as rose, calendula, tulip, chrysanthemum, yucca, and lavender are edible. When using just the petals, separate them from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum. Others, including Johnny-jump-up, violet, runner bean, honeysuckle, and clover can be eaten in their entirety.
Roses, dianthus, English daisies, marigolds and chrysanthemums have a bitter white portion at the base of the petal where it was attached to the flower. Bread or cut off the bitter part off the petal before using.
Cleaning Edible Flowers:
Shake each flower to dislodge insects hidden in the petal folds.
After having removed the stamen, wash the flowers under a fine jet of water or in a strainer placed in a large bowl of water.
Drain and allow to dry on absorbent paper. The flowers will retain their odor and color providing they dry quickly and that they are not exposed to direct sunlight.
Preserving Edible Flowers:
To preserve flowers, put them on moist paper and place together in a hermetically-sealed container or in plastic wrapping. This way, certain species can be preserved in the refrigerator for some 10 days.
If the flowers are limp, they can be revitalized by floating them on icy water for a few moments; don’t leave too long or else they will lose some of their flavor.
You can also store the whole flower in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight.