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Edible Flower Salad

The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years to the Chinese, Greek and Romans.

There are records of edible flower salads dating back to Elizabethan times when plants were grown for their medicinal purposes and their associations with language and meaning.

Edible flowers add colour, flavour and texture to both sweet and savoury dishes. A wide range of annuals and perennial edible flowers can be grown in the garden from early spring to late autumn. It is essential to correctly identify the flowers – if in doubt, leave unpicked! Home grown flowers where you can be sure they are pesticide free and not soiled by pets are best.

Pick young flowers and buds early in the morning before the sun gets hot on a dry day. Use immediately or store in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. Discard the stamens, pistol and calyx from the larger flowers and only use the petals. Remove the heel of the petals as this can often taste bitter.

Flowers combine well with herbs and apart from salads can be used as tisanes, flavoured oils and vinegars, to flavour sugar, crystallized to decorate cakes, enhance a stir fry – the larger flowers like courgettes can be dipped in batter and deep fried, an Italian seasonal favourite.

Here is a list of suitable flowers, by no means exhaustive, to encourage you to grow and pick this delicate addition to your salads.

  • Nasturtiums
  • Marigolds
  • Sweet Violets, Violas& Pansies
  • Scented Pelargoniums
  • Primroses
  • Alpine Pinks
  • Roses
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Chamomile
  • Fuchsia
  • Sunflowers
  • Herb Flowers – Rosemary, Chives, Lavender, Sage, Oregano, Mint, Lemon Verbena