How edible flowers can take your meal to the next level
Incorporating edible flowers into your meals has taken root as a delightful and nutritious trend. Here’s how to boost your dishes with wild plants.
We’re all guilty of letting a stray weed grow untamed in the backyard – but what if some of these pesky plants can serve a better purpose?
From the sweet stems of an English violet to the pretty blooms of oxalis, there are plenty of edible flowers to pick from, if you know what to look for.
The House of Wellness recently caught up with foraging expert Anna Matilda, aka “The Urban Nanna”, for her tips on identifying plants that are safe to eat and using them in the kitchen.
How to safely forage for edible flowers
Unlike simply selecting the cream of the crop from your veggie patch, foraging is the process of identifying and gathering wild plants.
You won’t find these flowers and weeds on supermarket shelves, so it’s important to be attentive and accurate, and to familiarise yourself with what’s safe to eat.
“Foraging for food is a great way to supplement your diet, but make sure to only pick things you can confidently identify,” Anna tells The House of Wellness TV.
“Ensure you’re picking from safe areas with no contaminants and if in doubt, just leave it out.”
The art is in learning to identify the right plants, and weed out those that are unsafe to consume.
“Learning to confidently and correctly identify plants is a long game,” Anna says.
“Learn in person from reliable, trusted experts, from reputable field guides, and do lots of practice observing identification features on the plants you’re learning about.”
Once you know what to look for, Anna says you’ll be set to explore new and natural foods.
“Learning about some of the wild edible foods that grow near you is a great way to supplement your grocery bill,” she says.
4 common edible flowers to start with
While there are plenty of edible species, Anna recommends beginners start with these common wild blooms.
Five-petaled trumpet flowers gather in a little bunch at the top of the stems of the plant.
All Oxalis species have three heart-shaped leaflets.
Blooms have five deep-purple petals, and a keel at the bottom for nectar.
Every above-ground part of this plant is edible.
This hardy plant is identified by rosettes of deeply toothed, mid-green leaves, and bright yellow flowers that look like a lion’s mane.
Each bloom grows on its own stalk, which releases white sap when broken.
Spear-shaped pink, purple or white flower buds emerge from silver-barked, leafless trees in late winter, unfolding into flowers with large petals surrounding green pistils and firm stamens.
How to use edible flowers at home
“Flowers like oxalis, gorse (which tastes like coconut) and edible daisies look pretty on things like yoghurt and dessert dishes,” Anna says.
English violet can be used to make flavourful sugar or syrups, while magnolia’s punchy ginger flavour can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes.
“Pickle magnolia flowers, dry them for tea, add them to dumpling mixture, and even fold them into chocolate brownie batter,” Anna suggests.
Not just for eating, oxalis can be used to make a yellow fabric dye.
“Pop some flowers into a jar of boiling water and give them a shake, then leave them overnight,” Anna says.
“Once you’ve strained out the flowers, add some fabric to dye and leave it in the sun for a couple of days.”
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Read more on unusual ingredients in the kitchen:
- Why you need native ingredients in your kitchen
- Surprising foods we’ll be eating in the future
- Why you need to get a taste for truffles
- Offal is back on the menu – and it’s a nutritional hit
Written by Hayley Hinze.