GARDEN VEGETABLES MAY BE A SUMMER STAPLE, but don’t overlook the blossoms and buds that precede them. Edible flowers add flavor and nutrients as well as a splash of color as a garnish on a plate or in a salad. Some blossoms— particularly zucchini or pumpkin—can be stuffed and grilled or fried as an appetizer or side dish.
Aside from color and flavor, edible blossoms can also provide a surprising nutrient boost. Zucchini blossoms contain vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper and calcium. Okra blossoms yield vitamins A, C, B6, plus calcium, iron and magnesium. Those little, ubiquitous blue violets are high in vitamins A and C, and high in antioxidants. They also contain rutin, a compound that strengthens veins. And oh, those daylilies— the blossoms are edible, but the real treats are the unopened flower buds, which taste remarkably like asparagus when sautéed in butter.
So, take some time to stop and smell the roses—and taste some, too, along with some violets, daylilies and nasturtiums, as well. Here’s a sampling of edible blossoms you can find around the garden, at the edges of your lawn or in the woods this summer.
- Basil flowers
- Bee Balm
- Daylily buds
- Garlic Chive
- Rose (hips)
- Squash (zucchini and pumpkin)
It’s important to keep food safety in mind when foraging. Be sure to properly identify the blossoms; be sure the flowers you pick haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, or grown in untreated manure. Above all, correctly identify any plant before consuming it.