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Flowers: The Fascinating Garnish

By Edited Feb 22, 2016 0 0

How-to Create Unique and Happy Meal Times


By: J. Marlando


I’m growing zucchini in the garden this year and just yesterday my wife and I were talking about how gigantic the blossoms are—much bigger than we have grown before so, as my wife said, they must be very happy where they are at.


Zucchini blossoms can be eaten raw or cooked and are easy to prepare. The important thing to remember is to remove the stamen. The stamen is the pollen producing part of the blossom as seen here 

Just stick your finger into the flower—being careful not to break through its base—and scrape or gently pull the stamen out.

I prefer my zucchini blossoms raw by themselves, as a snack and my wife will sometimes beautify our salads with them. You can also stuff them with a mild cheese—I prefer goat cheese—and put them in the oven for a few minutes or you can deep fry them as seen here

  or simply stuff them fresh and use them as surprising dish for your guests.

I don’t recall eating zucchini blossoms when I was a young boy but my grandmother used to make a wonderful dandelion soup. In fact, I have written about it in another article.

There are a great many edible flowers of course; edible flowers recipes and even edible flowers for sale. This article will strive to give the interested reader lots of information and creative ideas for creating fun, unexpected and beautiful eating and drinking experiences. And, if you are like my wife who loves having dinner parties, there are few things that give your guests a fun time like discovering flowers on their plates or in their drinks. Dandelion flowers, by the way, gives wine a wonderful taste and make an attractive float in the glass. My dad would do that when my mom served white wine (or even a blush wine) with fish for dinner.

Flowers that are food simply add an artistic dynamic to meal time and of course most kids love the idea of eating them. I know when I was a very young boy I just didn’t want to eat my salad so my mom would put hollyhock blossoms from our yard on it. Hollyhock blossoms turned the salad into an adventure so of course I gobbled it up.

Garnishing a meal with flowers simply makes eating fun for everyone.


Edible Flowers

You can’t eat all flowers and mostly when you eat edible flowers you are only taking about the blossoms. Indeed, a blossom can be absolutely tasty and edible with parts of the same plant toxic. One thing for sure, they beautify salads, O’dourves and main courses making them a nutritious surprise on the plate. (As with nearly all foods, some people have allergies so that means being conscientious about whom you create your special dishes for).

There’s quite a long list of edible flowers and I will name my favorites but if you are unsure of which flowers you can and cannot eat you can purchase a guide or ask an expert. For sure never eat a flower that you haven’t grown yourself or know exactly where it was grown—flowers along pathways, roadways, in parks or grown for florists have probably been sprayed with poisonous insecticides. You can, however, sometimes buy healthy flowers to eat at farmer markets and special sales. Actually in Mexican and authentic Italian stores zucchini flowers are typically plentiful in season. Speaking of Mexican stores, you can absolutely eat the blossoms from cilantro plants 

I do not like cilantro but lots of people love it. If you like cilantro, you will like the blossoms but try and eat them the day you pick them otherwise they quickly lose their fresh flavor.

I especially like lavender 

it has a little bite and is sweet. It is a wonderful garnish for any meat dish as far I am concerned.

We have jasmine 

growing alongside our house and now and then my wife will sprinkle a few blossoms over the barbecue sauce when we’re eating outside in the summer. You never want to put more than a few blossoms in or on your food however because jasmine has a way of taking over.

I’m a big fan of adding hollyhock blossoms to our meals and especially our salads. Hollyhocks

  adds a rare beauty and taste to food and can turn an ordinary salad into an art piece.

My most favorite flower is the lilac 

I grew up with lilac bushes in my grandmother’s yard and the very scent of those beautiful flowers brings back a ton of memories to me. That was back in Colorado, however. I now live in California and haven’t seen a lilac bush for many years, In any case, every now and then my grandmother would garnish our food with lilac and that always made the meal special. (If my memory serves me, my grandmother also used to cook with lilac during the holidays and I “think” she made turkey stuffing with it. I would not swear that was it though. I just can’t remember for sure).  


are truly tasty and you can eat their leaves too! They make perfect stuffed o’dourves and both their leaves and blossoms can be added to your salad. I believe it is safe to say that alongside zucchini and pumpkin blossoms, most people who have tried nasturtiums love them and probably you will too.


are a lovely addition to most salads but what I love is to decorate vanilla ice cream with them.


arrive in all shapes and sizes but they are all edible—some are tasty others lean on the bitter side so you have to sample to find out. Nevertheless, they make a most beautiful garnish and add lots of flavor to your rice dishes and your salads.


are also a great edible flower for cakes, cookies, salads and just to add beauty to whatever you’re serving.

And finally we come to the rose

  With the rose you have to remove the base but the blossoms have a unique taste and are great on desserts or beautiful floating atop drinks. (I have tried them in salads but did not like the taste—you might want to sample them in your own salads, however).   

Here’s a handsome plate with edible flowers for salad. They can make such an exquisite show piece in a bowl or on a plate:


Edible Flowers Easy to Grow



I am a backyard farmer but do not claim to be an expert. With that said, I’ll share the little I know and suggest if you have other question simply ask the nursery expert wherever you buy your seeds or plants. Anyway as said both pansies and violets are great for tasty garnishing. Both of these plants like a little shade and are generally heavy drinkers. How moist you keep your soil, however, will depend on the soil your planting in.

Chrysanthemums are a must if they grow in your area but they want a lot of sun all day long. If you happen to have a lot of clay in your soil as I do, you will want to mulch or put some rocks at the bottom of your hole before planting because these beauties need to grow in well-drained soil to be happy.

Lavender beautifies any yard but also needs full sun and soil that drains well.  

While I haven’t had a lilac bush for years we had them in our yard, back home in Colorado. They are my all-time favorite blossoms. I know that lilac bushes like sun but ours did great in partial shade. Once they are settled in, they are extremely hardy. We gave our lilac bushes very little care and they were healthy and happy for years and years.

Nasturtiums are an absolute (tasty) favorite for folks who enjoy edible flowers. And it will grow in full sum or in partial shade. However, they are a touchy plant and if you plant in shade they will not deliver the abundance of blossoms that they do growing in the sun. Incidentally this is one plant that you can eat not only the blossoms but also the leaves. Thus, this gives you a lot of room for creating an artistic garnish, another reason why nasturtiums are so popular even in some restaurants.

Geraniums are pretty and very tasty with blossoms arriving in a selection of flavors. If you grow your geraniums in the ground you can plant right in your yard while other flowers need to be started indoors or purchased after being started by your nursery. These plants are not only good eating but real beauties too. Incidentally, I typically plant mine in partial shade and they’ve always delivered an abundance of colorful blossoms.

Geraniums also do great in containers but, as a quick aside, I always mix Miracle-Grow into the soil to promote health and hardiness for my flowers and vegetables no matter if I plant in the ground or in a pot. (This year I am growing tomatoes in a container and after only a few weeks they are over four feet tall and growing. Is it any wonder that I’m a Miracle-Grow advocate?)

I have always found roses easy to grow and for most of us, roses are very romantic and beautiful. I do know that roses need six or seven hours of full sun a day to be happy. Truthfully I have purchased roses in containers from the nursery and planted them in partial shade and had “pretty good” results. However, I never get the abundance of blossoms I get from my rose bushes growing in the sun.

I’ve done well on my limited information and know-how but if you take a serious interest in planning and planting your yard and want to know more, there are great books and lots of sites on the internet to give you tremendous insight and help paint your thumb greener than it already is.




While it is true that some people gasp at the thought of eating flowers they probably do anyway without knowing it. For example broccoli

  and artichokes 
are flower buds of those plants. Actually edible flowers simply add beauty to the plate  and are good eating too.

There is yet another fantastic idea when it comes to flowers and adding a special touch to your next party or when you have dinner guests over. First get out your old ice cube tray, pick your flowers and create your art piece in ice


This is fun and adds charm in the glass. The question is how do make clear ice cubes.

First don’t use tap water. Tap water is so corrupted you will only get cloudy ice. Use bottled water and boil it first. Some people say to let it cool and boil a second time. In any case, here’s the results that you want


That summarizes my report. I suggest that anyone with real interest to do their own research and find some fun ideas and great recipes. In the meantime, Bon Appetite. 

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Great read and great ideas and information


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