Sunday, May 2, 2010

Edible flowers

Edible flowers always seem to me more of an eye-pleaser than a palate-pleaser -- while a few yellow or purple blooms can boost the visuals of a salad, I rarely find that they boost the flavor. After the "Wow! I am eating a flower" moment, I don't need to go back for another taste. A garnish of flowers is a good way to show off your chef street cred to impressionable guests. Sadly, after the oohs and aahs, usually the blooms are politely pushed to the side of the plate. Nor do I blame these diners. The candied violets I made a few nights ago -- jewels though they were -- tasted, well, sugary. Ho-hum.

In my experience, the exception to the underwhelming taste of edible flowers is the humble chive blossom. Though billed in many a garden book as imparting a "mild onion flavor" to dishes, I find the taste more powerful, closer to that of raw white onion. This strong, lingering flavor is especially prominent when still in half-bud, the tiny florets just emerging. Added to omelets or pasta, the blossoms can serve the same role as chive leaves, but with a lovely purple tint.

Many a gardening expert attests to to "spicy" punch of nasturtium flowers, which I will taste soon enough thanks to the seed GROW project. I tried to resist planting the nasturtium seed until all danger of frost had passed. But I just had so very many seeds, and with so much room for error, I had to push the limits of weather. After an overnight soak, I planted some seeds three weeks ago, and only one came up. Replacements are going into the ground this week. I was tempted to pluck one of the first tender leaves from the seedling for a quick taste, but I resisted. Soon enough I will have leaves and flowers by the bowlful. Let's hope that's a good thing for both the eye and the palate!

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds.


  1. Hi Abbie,Hmmm. . . chive flowers! I love onions, and I started chives from seed - the first chives I've grown since moving in with my husband. They were in the garden in the back yard at my last house - a garden of mixed ornamentals and edibles, and I've missed them. I've never eaten the flowers, but I'll definitely try them now.

    Your little nasturtium is cute. Mine are awful-looking - leggy and spindly, started under lights in the basement.

  2. Nasturtium flowers are delectable. Makes me realise why sheep and cows eat flowers. Then there's lavender.

  3. I am starting my nasturtiums tomorrow in all the pots the children have given me throughout the years with all of their names on them.


  4. I am going to plant some in pots this week, too. I started some inside, but they look kind of spindly. One of them kicked the bucket today, transplant shock or something.

    Can't wait to try the chive flowers...I have some chive seeds planted right now.