5 Beautiful Flowers You Probably Didn't Know You Could Eat

Ingredient Spotlight

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Candied rose petals on cakes and stuffed squash blossoms are yesterday's news! Here are five edible flowers that will make you look at your flower bed in a new and delicious light.

I have been slightly obsessed with edible flowers ever since picking up a copy of Cooking with Flowers by Miche Bacher. The pages of this book are full of ideas that bring bright colors and new flowery flavors to almost every meal of the day. These five have me particularly excited:

1. Daylilies: Bacher says all parts of the daylily are edible, from the blooms to the roots, and they have a fresh "sweet lettuce" flavor. Add them to salads for a pop of color or use them in stir fries.

2. Lilacs: Oh, yeah! That heady, sweet, floral fragrance that turns heads apparently translates directly onto the plate. Use only the blossoms themselves, and infuse them into sorbets, ice creams, puddings, and even jam. My first project is going to be an infused simple syrup for use in cocktails.

3. Orchids: Although these flowers might seem too pretty to eat, you definitely should. Bacher describes their flavor as a mix "cucumber and endive." She recommends using them in stir fries or candy them for cake decorations.

4. Sunflowers: I love sunflower seeds, but never thought about the petals! They have mild grassy flavor. Pluck those petals and fold them into grain salads or bake them into a loaf of bread (Bacher's recipe in the book uses both the petals and the seeds for a double dose of sunflower!)

5. Tulips: Tulips have a cucumber flavor like orchids, but without the spiciness. Given their cup-like shape, they are nature's original edible container. Bacher suggests using them as ice cream bowls, but I also like the idea of packing them with a grain salad and taking them on a picnic. Remove the pistols and stamens before using.

Whenever you're cooking with flowers, make sure you only pick or buy flowers that have been grown organically and without pesticides. Many flowers intended for floral arrangements are sprayed with pesticides and insecticides that aren't always safe for consumption.

For more floral inspiration, check out the book:

→ Cooking with Flowers by Miche Bacher

Do you ever cook with flowers? Which ones do you use most often?

(Image: kikolinakika/Shutterstock)