I was folding mayo and a smidgen of olive tapenade into my egg
salad. Green -- I craved something green. The second growth of
spring mix in the window box came to mind. After clipping fresh
lettuce and arugula leaves, I noticed the nearby purple/blue and
yellow-faced pansies 'Penny Marlies'. Wouldn't they be pretty
around the egg salad?
What other edible flowers are blooming within picking distance?
Pink chive flowers in pot in the backyard! They'd add onion flavor
without the chopping.
Pansies. Is every flower part edible or just the petals? I leaf
through Cathy Wilkinson Barash's Edible Flowers From Garden to
Barash writes that pansies are related to the also
edible violet and Johnny-Jump-up. The petals have a mild flavor.
The whole flower has a wintergreen overtone.
The small 'Penny Marlie' flower I sample is crisp and tender. Yes,
there IS a flush of wintergreen berry. I clip off more, nibbling
some and placing some around the salad. The frilly 'Lemonberry
Frizzle' pansies are a funny, bigger mouthful.
An allium, the chive is a perennial herb best grown in sun and very
well-drained soil. My first chives thrived in a cement block on a
macadam driveway. Chive leaves are one of the first greens to pop
in spring. Fluffy balls of lavender-pink flowers bloom on tall,
non-palatable stems. Each flower is really a cluster of florets.
Chive flowers are most flavorful when newly opened. Mine are on the
wane, a bit dry. No matter. I pull off the florets to sprinkle over
the egg salad. Yum!
Other Edible Flowers
Barash includes ten rules about edible flowers. Know your flowers
because some flowers are poisonous. Eat only flowers grown
organically (not fresh from the nursery, florist, garden center, or
roadside.) In most cases, eat only the petals. Remove pistils,
stamens, sepals. If you have allergies, asthma, or hay fever do not
Dianthus (a.k.a. wild clove pink, carnation, pink, gillyflower) is
another spring bloomer. Its petals taste like sweet clove. Remove
the green calyx (sepal) and the bitter white base of the
In June and July, elderberry (Sambucus)
shrubs burst with
white flower clouds. These sweet-scented, sweet-tasting clusters
called elderblow can infuse teas and flavor syrup, cordials, soda,
wine. They add flavor to muffins, fritters and custard. Caution:
green parts and roots of the elderberry are poisonous. Carefully
remove flowers from stems.
Soon the native perennial bee balm (Monarda)
tantalizing bees and butterflies. Also known as bergamot and Oswego
tea, bee balm has flowers that can taste citrusy, sweet, hot and/or
minty. They flavor fish, ice cream, tea and baked goodies such as
cake, tarts, scones.
Dwarf signet marigolds (Tagetes signata)
have petals the
flavor of spicy tarragon, writes Barash. These are not the popular
African and French bedding marigolds. Signets grow in compact
mounds of fine, lemon-scented foliage. The small single flowers are
lemon ('Lemon Gem') or orange ('Tangerine Gem'). Eat only the
petals. Remove the bitter white ends. I like to use signet petals
to jazz up pasta and chicken dishes. Bon Appetit!