When is it Okay to Eat Fresh Edible Flowers? Leave a comment

From violas to nasturtium, I’m always growing edible flowers to adorn my drinks, sprinkle on my salads, and spice up my dishes. Because who doesn’t love a little bit of colour!? If you’ve never had fresh edible flowers, here are the golden rules to enjoy them safely.

edible chive blossoms

Edible flowers are one of the most fun ways to get into gardening. So often, I find that if you put a flower on someone’s food, they’ll hesitate to eat it…simply because we’re not used to eating them!

Once you start experimenting with edible flowers, you won’t stop. Soon, you’ll be like me, adding them into lollipops and ice cubes every chance you get.

Because we don’t know the world of edible flowers very well, we have to set some ground rules. They’re not scary or difficult; they’re just unknown.

So, if you’re new to enjoying fresh edible flowers, welcome! Let me tell you what you need to know to eat them safely.

Only Eat Fresh Edible Flowers You Can Identify

The number one rule when it comes to anything edible is only to eat it if you can 100% identify it. Many plants have lookalikes, and you don’t want to eat something you don’t feel confident about.

In addition, don’t assume the whole plant is edible just because one part is edible. For instance, you eat tomatoes, but you don’t want to eat their flowers. In the case of fresh edible flowers, don’t eat other parts of the plant unless you know for a fact they are also edible.

Only Eat Organic Edible Flowers

Since flowers are so delicate, it’s extremely difficult to wash them. So, while you might wash vegetables that aren’t organic, you likely can’t wash your non-organic edible flowers. And since you don’t want to be ingesting all those pesticide and herbicide chemicals, it’s best to leave the non-organic flower out of your meal.

When I buy plants from the garden centre, the first thing I do is pinch off all the flowers or fruit that comes with it. I only eat the new flowers that have grown since I purchased them.

Before that plant is yours, you don’t know what they have come into contact with. You don’t want to eat anything that could be covered in the many chemicals growers spray, especially on plants originally meant to be ornamental.

This rule applies to any edible plant, from lettuce to basil to tomatoes to my edible flowers.

growing edible flowers
Growing edible flowers yourself is the safest way to enjoy them.

Only Eat Fresh Edible Flowers From a Reputable Source

Growing edible flowers is the best way to ensure your flowers are safe to eat. Many people might think eating a flower on the roadside or foraging for flowers is a good idea, but I would caution against it.

There can be pollutants on it from nearby roadways, or even insecticides such as those that come from aerial sprays.

If you can’t grow edible flowers yourself, buy flowers that are grown as edible and labelled for eating.

borage plant blooming
Borage is easy to grow and a bee favourite, as well as being edible.

Be Mindful of Pollen Allergies

Those who are allergic to pollen or have asthma may notice that they’re still allergic to the flowers, even upon eating them. To avoid this, it’s best to remove the stamen and pistils of the plant, ideally only eating the plant’s petals.

Introduce flowers into your diet slowly. Don’t eat too many at once.

Fresh Flowers on Food Aren’t Always Edible

I’ve always been amazed at how little food safety there is surrounding fresh edible flowers. Just because someone has put a fresh flower on your plate doesn’t mean it’s edible. You don’t want to assume someone has done their research.

For instance, roses are a common edible flower. So, people will buy a bunch of roses from the grocery store and use them to decorate a cake, sticking them directly in without using a pick of some kind.

Meanwhile, those flowers are not food-safe since they’re likely covered in all kinds of chemicals.

flowerfetti salad
Flower petals make this salad bright and fun.

Safely Using Fresh Edible Flowers

All in all, always be on your guard. But when you know how to use them, they’re SO much fun and such a fun way to level up your cooking and decorating.

Here are some more resources on edible flowers for you to continue learning!

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