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Eat The Same Flowers As The Romans

By Helen Wand, the Organic Veg Doctor


Certain flowers were grown by the Romans as a delicacy. Garden Advice shows how to grow, prepare and eat them!

I won't bore you with pages of history on the subject. Just a taster, to give a little background before you plunge in to the suggestions.


Flowers have been eaten for many centuries, both in salads as garnishes, as well as an ingredient in cooked dishes. The Romans and the Greeks both used rose petals in their vino [wine]. And not only did the Romans flavour their honey with Lavender, but they baked and ate Gladioli bulbs as well! Not sure I'd fancy that myself!


Now moving on to the Middle Ages. Thanks to the monks tending their monastery gardens and herbariums, the eating of flowers became popular in this part of the world. By the 16th century, cooks were using, lavender elder blossoms, marigolds, nasturtiums, dandelions, violets and lilacs in food.


To bring things right up to date, you've probably noticed flowers being used, in salads in fancy restaurants, and by chefs on the television using them as decoration on the top of beautiful chocolate tortes and gateaux. But flowers are not just for the rich and famous! We can all have a go, as well. For instance why not throw a few nasturtium flowers in your favourite salad. Not only do they look pretty, but they taste good too! They have a nice peppery kick!


Other edible flowers are: day lilies, violas and pansies, tulips, rosemary, calendula (marigolds), elder flowers, squash flowers (for instance pumpkins and courgettes). Then there's sweet peas, chives, and other members of the onion family, hollyhocks and tuberous begonias, which have a lemony flavour.


As well as using the flowers from your flower garden, you can of course grow some in your organic veg garden. Try tagetes (marigold) lemon gem around your beans to ward off aphids, and around your carrots to ward of carrot fly. You can eat the flowers in salads and not only do they add a delicate lemon flavour, they smell lovely & look fantastic!


I think that's enough to give you something to think about, for now.

Just a little word of caution, before we move on to those serving ideas! There are a few plants whose flowers are not edible, either because they taste nasty, or are actually poisonous, such as the Datura. So if you don't recognise a flower growing in your garden, as one of the above, or you're just not sure: Do Not eat it, or let your children pick it. But don't let my little warning put you off! Give it a go: it's fun!


Serving Ideas for Edible Flowers

1. Snapdragons. Squeeze open a blossom and stuff with caviar (if you're feeling prosperous) or your favourite smooth pate. Alternatively you can use cream cheese!

2. Gladioli, day lilly or tulip blossoms (with their stems removed obviously). Fill with seafood, chicken, egg salads, or potato salad! You also need to make sure that none of the pieces in the salad, of your choosing, are to large.

3. Borage blooms or rose petals. These can be frozen in ice cubes for adding to punches or Gin And Tonic. Very trendy! Borage flowers have a slightly cucumber flavour, which is really cooling on a hot summer's evening, sitting around the BBQ, drinks in hand, with your friends!

4. Squash flowers (ie from pumpkins and courgettes). These can be stuffed with a filling of your choice such as salmon mouse or cream cheese or any soufflé mix. They should then be deep fried. delicious and very professional!

5. Marigold (such as tagetes) and small violas or pansies. Roll cylinders of these two, or for that matter, finely chop any other flower petals.

Any of the above can be served with your own salad choice, sprinkled with pink rose petals! How to really impress your friends and family when you have then over for dinner!


Check out my other recipes accompanying The Organic Doctor's other veggie articles! Or if you want to share your recipes, or query anything with me, send us me an e-mail on helen@gardenadvice.co.uk.

The Garden Advisors team love to get your feed back!







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