Test Kitchen tips: Edible flowers
If you decide to add flowers to a recipe, make sure that the flowers are indeed edible. Like mushrooms, some flowers can be harmful or even poisonous if eaten -- be sure you know what you're playing with before adding any flowers to a recipe.
Likewise, make sure the flowers haven't been sprayed with any pesticides. If you're picking from your own garden, make sure sure it’s from a spot your dog or cat can’t mark as its own.
You can often find edible flowers in the produce section of well-stocked grocery stores and gourmet markets; if purchasing flowers, be sure to buy them from produce suppliers (flowers from florists may have been sprayed with pesticides).
Freshly picked flowers should be used the day they're harvested because they can wilt quickly. Purchased flowers can keep up to several days, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.
The New Food Lover's Companion gives a great list of options in its edible flowers entry:
"Some of the more popular edible flowers are: the peppery flavored nasturtiums; chive blossoms, which taste like a mild, sweet onion; pansies and violas, both with a flavor reminiscent of grapes, and perfumy, sweet roses. Other edible flowers include: almond, apple, borage, chamomile, lavender, lemon, lovage, mimosa, orange, peach, plum and squash blossoms, chrysanthemums, daisies, geraniums, jasmine, lilacs, marigolds and violets."
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-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Sugar-dusted marigold on top of a butter cupcake. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times