With spring in full force, many gardeners are planting violas and pansies. It reminds me to plant some edible flowers in our garden this year. Not all flowers are edible and not all flowers are tasty to eat, but there are many that are a delight to the eyes and tongue.
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The first step in growing flowers that you intend to eat is making sure you grow the right ones. Some flowers can cause stomach upset or allergic reactions, so properly identify what you're eating before you start munching.
Growing up in an Italian-American household, my mother would serve squash flowers in summer. There are tasty sautéed with garlic and olive oil or stuffed. And there are so many other flowers to eat as well. Nasturtium leaves and flowers have a peppery taste. Pansies and violas have a sweet, perfumed flavor. Calendula and marigold flower petals have a spicy or citrusy flavor. Rose petals vary in flavor, from strawberries to green apples, depending on the variety. Daylily flowers have a mild, honey taste. Sunflower buds can be steamed and eaten like artichokes. Of course, right now I'm eating lots of dandelion greens. Dandelion flowers have a honey-like flavor and other weeds, such as sorrel, have a lemony taste.
Once you know the flower in question is safe to eat then play with adding it to salads, soups, drinks, cakes, and other desserts. Always sample a small amount of any flower to be sure of the taste and your reaction before using it. The taste, sight, and smell of edible flowers makes for a delicious dining experience.