Sunday, August 2, 2015

You Can Have Your Flowers and Eat Them Too!

Calendula blossoms in a salad.  Edible flowers are a great way to add some extra nutrition and vibrant color to your recipes.

Flowers can be very beautiful and help to attract pollinators, but to actually eat them?  This is indeed uncharted territory for many of us.  The idea of eating flowers was new to me until I started a garden three seasons ago. After all, how often do you see edible flowers for sale at the supermarket?  Never, really...

As it turns out, many flowers are quite edible, and many of those colorful blooms even have health benefits such as providing vitamins, minerals, and healing phytonutrients.

While the idea of eating flowers may sound a little strange, their consumption may not actually be that foreign to us, as many of us have enjoyed the benefits of herbal flower blossoms like lavender and chamomile that can be used in herbal teas and are very healing to the body.  Dandelion blossoms are also a well-known edible flower with many healing benefits.

My latest experiment with edible flowers has been to eat some of the calendula blossoms growing in my garden in salads.  After growing calendula for a couple of seasons and then using the flowers to make homemade lotions and salves, I decided to try eating them recently after learning how they can help to reduce inflammation in the body, help to heal the digestive tract, and have a number of other health benefits. 

Other ways to consume calendula blossoms are in teas and added to soups and stews.  They can be eaten both fresh and dried.  I found that the best way to eat them fresh has been to eat them with homemade raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing, but you may find your own favorite way to consume them. 

Be aware that although many flowers are edible and healthy for you, some of them are not edible and can actually be toxic, so it’s important to do some research to learn which ones you can consume and which ones to stay away from. 

It’s also very important to eat only those flowers that have not been sprayed with chemicals, are not harvested growing along roadsides, and to start out slowly to ensure that you do not have any adverse reactions to consuming flowers before consuming them in larger quantities.

For more information about edible flowers and which ones are safe to eat, this is a great resource to start with.

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