There are many various ways you can prepare edible flowers: fresh, cooked, candied, frozen, dried, or preserved in oils or vinegars. You may also like to use edible flowers as garnishes to food.
Here are some ways that I have used flowers grown in my tiny little garden to enhance the flavor, color, and texture of our food.
Please be careful when identifying flowers and confirm they are not poisonous prior to eating. Consume only flowers that have been grown without pesticide and ones that have not been recently exposed to animal manure.
Borage (Borago officinalis) - Has lovely cornflower blue star-shaped flowers. Blossoms and leaves have a cool, faint cucumber taste. It is wonderful in punches, lemonade, gin and tonics, sorbets, chilled soups, cheese tortas, and dips.
The whole flower is edible, sepals and all. Pansies have a mild, minty flavor. The flowers brighten up a salad and work well for candying and make great decorations on top of cakes. Unfortunately snails and slugs also like to eat these so you may wish to grow them up high.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
All parts of this plant are edible. The flower has most often been consumed, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient. They are also said to be good for chest colds. Another benefit is that Nasturtiums repel some pests and act as a trap crop for others – this offers your other plants protection from being eaten.
In 2012 I took a Italian cooking class in Rome. Here I learned to make fried zucchini blossoms.
If your local supermarket or your farmers' market doesn't carry zucchini blossoms, you may want to can plant some zucchini for both zucchinis and flowers.
Examine the base of the flowers in the morning, just after the flower opens, to determine which male flowers are ready for picking. Male blossoms have narrow flower stems and usually open first, while female blossoms open the following day and have a swollen stem that may resemble a miniature version of the mature fruit.
Cut the male flower from the vine with a small pair of shears. Make the cut directly behind the flower head and leave 1 inch of stem attached. Only collect fully open, healthy-looking blooms. Leave some male blossoms on the plant to pollinate the female flowers.
Use whenever a light onion flavor and aroma is desired. Separate the florets and enjoy the mild, onion flavor in a variety of dishes.