Edible flowers are a wonderful way to spruce up your meals and add character to your table. Many flowers that we consider common weeds or only ornamentals for our garden can make a grand entrance to our kitchens.
Basic knowledge is needed for the proper identification of edible flowers. Use several books with clear photos to cross reference information on flowers, talk to your nursery people where you purchase your plants to help you select the proper species for your home garden, do web searches under the Latin name for additional information and most of all, if in doubt, leave it alone.
If you have children, especially small ones, educate them along with yourself for a fun family project. But be very sure to stress with them the dangers involved in eating just any flower they see. Many common house plants and flowers are highly poisonous and extreme caution is the key to enjoying tomorrow’s feast.
Always be sure that the flowers you use for your recipes have not been treated with any sort of pesticide, such as the flowers you would get from a florist. Growing your own flowers is the safest route to go since you will know what they have been subjected to. Organic pest control is easy, economical, and safest for our environment. If wildcrafting edible flowers, collect them as far from roadways as possible to ensure the flowers have not absorbed noxious gases and fumes from passing motorists, and if collecting from wetlands and marshes, take the time to find out if there is factory run-off that may affect that specific water table.
Do not over-collect blooms in the wild that depend on their flowers for propagation. Several wild plants in North America have already been overharvested to the point of extinction, and good wildcrafting ethics will ensure the continued existence of wild plants for future generations.
Various Links of interest:
Edible Flowers From Garden to Palate by Cathy Wilkinson Barash
Native American Gardening Stories, Projects and Recipes for Families by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
Ten Rules of Edible Flowers A must-read especially for beginners.
Article Edible Flowers, by Cathy Barash