Edible Flowers Make Cheap Food Beautiful Again

By Linsey Knerl on 2 July 2007 (Updated 20 July 2010) 7 comments
Photo: Linsey Knerl

Those of you with gardens are probably entering a new season of produce. Squash plants are getting icky, but they are still producing more zucchini and summer varieties than you can handle. If you are looking for a bit of variety in your day, why not give the flowers a try!

While picking her dozens of zucchini and summer squash last week, my always resourceful mother commented that I should try eating the squash flowers. "Come again?" Yep, she knew all about frying the flowers for food. I had heard of flowers for salads and such, but never squash flowers, and never frying them.

Well, I took some home (the male flowers only) and I washed them, cut off the green bottoms, and the inside boy parts (this would be the stamen for those who are anatomically aware). I dipped them in a bowl of eggs, and then in a bowl of seasoned bread crumbs. Two minutes in a hot bath of vegetable oil, and I got the most mouth watering, crunchy delights. They had a floral hint, but tasted more like a delicious fried thing that I can’t describe.

If you get the chance, this is what it is all about! I enjoyed the flowers with some fried zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms. This would also be dandy as a tempura. The kids even ate them!

I began searching frantically for even more flower recipes. My eyes were opened to the world of Stuffed Nasturtiums, Lavender Cookies, and Squash Flower Soup. With even more research, I found that most of us eat flowers everyday and didn’t even know it. (Ever hear of a clever flower called broccoli?)

While you most certainly can plant edible flowers for the sole purpose of a nifty new recipe, your most budget-friendly approach is to grab a checklist of the safe flowers to eat and get foraging! (Please note that there are also some very common flowers in most yards that are very poisonous. If you don’t know what it is, please don’t eat it.)

Rose hips, nasturtiums, bachelor button, apple blossoms, carnation, coriander, sweet Williams, honeysuckle, lotus, and glads are just a few of the hundreds of edible flowers just waiting to be fried, baked, or boiled into a delicious gourmet meal. For even more inspiration, check out Edible Flowers by Kathy Brown, or visit your local extension office website for some great entertaining ideas for an edible flower get-together everyone will enjoy.

And if flowers don’t float your boat, you can always revisit Andrea Dickson’s article on Edible Weeds.

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Andrea Karim's picture

It was only when caper berries started gaining popularity as a martini garnish that I came to realize that capers themselves are actually pickled flower buds. Who knew?

I just bought some rose hip jam the other day. I'm going to have to crack it open tonight over some fresh bread. I can't grow roses where I live, so I have to eat vicariously through my grocery delivery service.

Great post, Linsey!

Guest's picture
Guest

Eating zucchini flowers in Italy is a common practice that few know about outside of the country, (yes, we do eat more than pasta!)

Typically what's done is they take a zucchini flower, stuff it with mozzarella pieces and anchovy paste, then close it off, fry it in oil and serve it up. I personally don't like it, but my father who grew up there cites it as one of his favorite things to have!

Guest's picture

Great article!! You are one amazing woman. I have to add you to my blogroll. I don't know how you do it all!

Linsey Knerl's picture

I either don't get it all done, or I do it all very messily... LOL

Thanks for the compliment! 

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Andrea Fernandez

This is an Italian recipe that has been handed down from generations in my family. I take the zucchini flowers, wash & break them up and put them in a batter made up of flour (whole wheat can be used), water, egg, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. You then fry them in canola oil until crispy -- YUM!!!!

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johnk

You can get three flowers at Latino markets if you have them nearby. There's Jamaica which is dried hibiscus, and is steeped in water to make something that tastes like fruit punch (if you add sugar). There's squash blossoms (flor de calabaza) which I believe is the same as these zucchini flowers, popular with Mexicans. It's popular in quesadillas. There's loroco, which Salvadorans put into pupusas (a stuffed, handmade tortilla).

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Flauss

My sister in law owns one of the most successful boutique catering companies in Los Angeles, squash blossoms are on her master menu list, and everyone loves them once they try them!