Shall we learn about three more flowers that can be grown for beauty, flavor, diversity, and fun? Cooking with the edible parts of lavender, roses, and sunflowers is a sure-fire way to create new culinary creations to delight family and friends!
Do you know that some lavender plants can produce for 12 years? To grow lavender it’s best to choose a spot in full sun with well-drained soil. Farmers and gardeners typically prune lavender in fall after the plants have finishing blooming. Thanks to its aromatic scent (found in all parts of this woody shrub), pruning lavender offers farmers and gardeners a relaxing respite after the busy summer season.
All lavender plant buds are edible, but flavor does vary. The varieties chosen for cooking are usually slightly sweet and floral. Dried lavender buds can be added to your own version of Herbes de Provence, a spice mixture that boosts flavor of many savory meat dishes. To satisfy your sweet tooth try making lavender and honey marshmallows for campfire s’mores. Or, bake a batch of shortbread cookies made extra delicious with lavender icing.
Roses—Petals and Hips
The sky’s the limit when it comes to rose petals in the kitchen. Like borage blossoms, rose petals can be frozen in ice cube trays. Float the ice cubes in a glass of fresh lemonade or in a seasonal cherry agua fresca. Adorn homemade cupcakes with candied petals. Fresh or dried petals add a splash of color and flavor to made-from-scratch scones. Rose petals or rose hips can be used to jelly or jam. Rose hips are very high in vitamin C and make a delicious tea. It is also fun to create your own herbal tea blend using dried rose petals, lavender, mint, or any of your favorite herbs and spices.
The flavor of rose petals is floral, sweet or spicy, and sometimes fruity. A few varieties have notes of strawberry or apple and even mint. Usually, the more fragrant the rose the more flavorful its petals and hips. Edible Austin shares tips for eating roses.
Sunflowers—Sunshine on a Stem
Sunflowers add cheer to any yard, garden, or farm. Sunflower petals, seeds, and buds are edible. Yes, that’s right—unopened buds can be cooked (steamed) like artichokes and will taste a little like artichokes!
The petals of sunflowers taste bittersweet and can be tossed into salads and slaws. It is especially fun to learn how to harvest and roast the seeds at the end of summer. There’s nothing like eating homegrown sunflower seeds roasted and sprinkled with sea salt. A tasty treat for all ages!
Know Before You Eat
Always exercise caution when choosing to consume any food you have never eaten before.
“Many flowers are edible and the flowers of most culinary herbs are safe [but] proper identification is essential because some flowers are poisonous and should not be eaten.” —Colorado State University Extension
“Eat only [properly identified edible flowers] that have not been sprayed with insecticide, or grown using systemic insecticides and fungicides.” —Edible Austin