The Incredible, Edible . . . Chrysanthemum?

As I sit looking out the window with my vase of roses taking up a fair amount of window space, their fragrant scent wafting towards me, I wonder, Are roses edible?

Not that I plan on eating my bouquet anytime soon, but I’ve noticed that as spring rolls in, I’m noticing more and more dishes incorporating edible flowers. I have always appreciated local and seasonal plants for recipes, but none are more interesting than delicate, seemingly inedible flowers. I guess the only one that really resonates in my mind as being edible is lavender, and that’s only as of recent when I started noticing one of my favorite ornamental garden decorations showing up on my ingredients lists.

Just yesterday I had some handmade chocolates from French Broad Chocolate Lounge, one of which was a lavender and honey truffle. Lavender is delicately sweet with just a touch of flowery essence, so it makes a fantastic addition to chocolates. The French Broad version was mouth-wateringly delicious.

Back in Savannah, one of my favorite bars (a chocolate bar, imagine that) called Lulu’s offered a cheese plate, and one of the seasonal cheeses was infused with lavender and a very grassy herb. Mixed with the aged bite of the cheese of the earthiness of the grass, the lavender was subtly sweet, adding to the earthy flavor.

At Green Sage Cafe, they offer an unusual flavored syrup for your coffee: lavender, of course. With the iced drink, it clashes with the cold, bitter coffee flavors, but a hot latte warms up the flower akin to a hot tea – with some bite, of course.

I even had a friend in college who would bake lavender infused cookies for the class. It added just the right amount of floral essence to the otherwise subtly sweet treat.

So if lavender can so easily be incorporated into so many recipes, what other flowers lend themselves to cooking? Or can be eaten at all?

What’s Cooking America had a fantastic article all about edible flowers, and some of the options surprised me. Carnations, my favorite flower as a child (and very similar to the roses sitting at my desk) are actually edible. Not only are they incredibly sweet and therefore likely easy to bake with, they are also a secret ingredient in a French liquor. If you’ve ever had Chartreuse, you’ve eaten just a bit of carnation. (Or drank it.)

If you’re looking to add something extra to your cooking or baking, there are dozens of edible flowers you can use – the website above is a fantastic resource for selecting, prepping and cooking with flowers. There are several recipes on there, although I plan on finding a few on my own, too!

And if you were wondering, yes. Roses are very edible. You may even have drank some yourself if you’ve ever tasted rose water.

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