Endless Edible Flowers

The dewy scent of freshly bloomed flowers is in the air. When you step onto Locust, or in a moment of calm while lounging outside on a tantalizingly warm afternoon, you may realize: spring is an olfactory smorgasbord. So maybe it’s time to introduce your taste buds to flowers as well. Each one adds dimension in texture, taste, and visual appeal to any dish. Not only do they elevate your eating experience, flowers provide antioxidants that are difficult to come across in other foods.

This article is the first in a series on floral elements that are easy and enjoyable additions to any diet. Before we jump into specific flowers and their uses, it’s important to know where to find edible flowers and how to prepare them.

Edible flowers are more easily accessible than you may imagine. Your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s will usually carry packages of assorted edible flowers. Make sure that you purchase flowers for consumption from the herbs or produce section, and not from the floral section. Flowers not bred for consumption often contain unsavory chemicals or pesticides.

One of my favorite sources is Iovine Brothers in Reading Terminal Market. You can find a wide variety of high quality exotic and common ingredients at this vibrant, go-to produce market. Edible flowers can also be purchased online. One of the more popular websites is Melissa’s, which offers a package of 40 to 50 flowers of over ten varieties for $21.99, which includes overnight shipping (necessary for fresh flowers!). Other websites include Gourmet Sweet Botanicals and Chef’s Garden. Amazon offers dried edible flowers as well.

Flower preparation is a pretty standard process across the board. To eat raw, simply rinse with cold water to refresh the flowers’ appearance and texture. For immediate use, air dry them on a tray lined with paper towels. To save for future use, you can store fresh, edible flowers in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to one week.

Beyond consuming them fresh, flowers also go well with various vegetables or can be fried for a satisfying blend of elegance and comfort (think deep-fried squash blossoms).

More conventionally,  edible flowers make great edible garnishes, whether you’re creating a rustic look for a dessert or refining a main course. One of my personal favorite uses is to freeze them into ice cubes to add a pop of color and pleasant floral undertone to any iced drink. In any case, make sure to always conduct your research on flowers you’re planning on consuming.

Stay tuned for the rest of this series – April showers bring May edible flowers!