The large and showy flowers are beautiful. They make great table decorations, but when it comes to edible blooms, I prefer smaller and more modest flowers than some herbs. They make excellent teas and work well in desserts and cocktails. Some of my favorite edible herb flowers are lavender, sage and chives.
Using herbal flowers
Many people grow herbs for their leaves, but I also like many of the flowers. They offer a unique flavor and also have some medicinal properties. One of my absolute favorite cups of tea is chamomile tea, which not only relaxes me before going to bed, but also relieves stomach pain. Here are some of my other best uses of herbal flowers in the kitchen:
- Lavender. Collect and dry the lavender sprouts before they fully open. I use them to prepare a light and relaxing tea, but also for cocktails and biscuits. Boil a cup of water with two cups of sugar and three tablespoons of dried flowers to make a syrup for cocktails. For cookies, I love throwing dried flowers in a cookie recipe with sugar with a lemon zest.
- Chives. Chive stalks are tasty and versatile with a slight onion flavor, but don’t overlook the flowers. The round and purple blooms are fantastic in salads when they have just started to bloom. In full bloom, these flowers have a strong flavor, so use sparingly.
- Basil. I used to simply pinch basil flowers to keep the leaves, but now I use them too. They are excellent in fruit desserts, such as poached pears or crunchy apples.
- wise. The unique flavor of sage flowers is tasty fresh in salads, although strong and pungent. They are also tasty in fruit desserts, including fresh fruit salad and in marinades for savory dishes.
- calendula. The bright orange-yellow petals of calendula are tasty in savory dishes and give their color, just like the more expensive saffron. I add them to the rice cooking for color and flavor, and fresh on a pan.
- dill. Dill is one of my favorite herbs, but I have only recently tried flowers. They were delicious in a cold vegetable soup that I prepared and a cucumber salad.
Collection and conservation of herbal flowers
Most edible herb flowers are harvested and used to the best before fully opening, with some exceptions such as calendula. Experiment with the flower stage to decide how you prefer flowers. You may like the more intense taste you get with open blooms.
Some of these will want to use fresh flowers, but dried flowers are often preferable when using herbal flowers. For example, tea and simple syrups are best made from dry blooms. Just collect the individual flowers and let them dry completely in a paper bag before storing them in airtight containers. They will last a long time in this way.