Growing flowers with edible blossoms

blooming chives
Have you ever admired how authentic pansy petals looked on a cake, thinking that they were created with colored icing? Chances are, those were real flower blossoms, and yes, you can eat them. Some of the same flowers that lend beauty to your landscape, and offer up fragrance, can add flavor to food and oils. Flowers have their own unique taste. Couple that taste with their color to determine with which foods to serve them. 

Not all plant blossoms are edible and care must be taken not to eat any part of plants that may have been exposed to pesticides. Following are four common, easy-to-grow flowering plants whose blossoms are suitable for eating.

Chives

Chives are a perennial that can grow about 12 inches tall and 12 to 15 inches wide. Start chives from seed indoors two months before the expected last frost or you can plant potted chives in the spring. Choose a sunny location. 

The stems and blooms of chives offer a mild onion flavor. Break apart the raggedy-looking purple-pink flower and add to cooked vegetables, salads or in cream cheese dip. Snip the stems to use in salads, soups or dip. Drop blooms or stems into a small container of olive oil to flavor the oil for dipping bread.

Impatiens

This annual flower can be as short as 6 inches and as tall as 3 feet. Impatiens prefer part shade though they can accept sun if protected by shade in late afternoon. Impatiens will bloom spring to fall and they self-seed, adding to the pleasure of growing them.

The sweet flavor of impatiens makes the petals good as a garnish on desserts. Some like to float impatiens petals on a fruity beverage.

Johnny Jump-ups and Pansies

These happy-faced low-growers like sun to part shade. Plant Johnny jump-ups or pansies in the spring or in the fall. Popping off the spent blooms will encourage new blooms.

The large petals of these blossoms can be used to decorate cakes or candy. Johnny jump-ups have a wintergreen flavor making them a good match with chocolate candies. The petals of blossoms from Johnny jump-ups or pansies can be used in salads or floated in fruity beverages.

Gathering Blossoms

Start by collecting fully matured blossoms from the garden. Make sure you are choosing blossoms that were never sprayed with pesticide or even near plants that were sprayed. Early morning, as the blossoms first turn their heads to the sun, is a good time to harvest the blooms. Cut or pluck off the blossom just before you are ready to use them. Rinse well, making sure there’s no dirt or bugs clinging to the petals. If you cannot use the blossom right away, place them on a damp towel on top of a plate, cover with a second damp towel and place in the refrigerator, where they will hold for several hours.


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