Make sure you're choosing from this list.
Not long ago, edible flowers were reserved for fancy bakeries and Michelin-starred restaurants. And then Instagram happened. Fun as decorating your smoothie bowls and other eats with edible flowers may be, though, it’s not a total free-for-all. (No, you can’t just turn any old bouquet into a salad.)
“The term, ‘edible’ simply indicates that the flower was grown in a food-safe way, meaning it wasn't treated with unsafe pesticides or preservatives," explains Todd Seyfarth, RD, dietitian, chef, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Johnson & Wales University. "It also means that the flower doesn’t naturally contain any compounds we've identified as dangerous or toxic.”
Not all edible flowers are actually worth eating, though. “Often, plants with vivid and deep colors are bitter on the palate, so [appreciation for their taste] will vary from person to person,” says Seyfarth. If you're not a fan of bitter flavor, you'll probably want to remove those deep-hued petals from your food after snapping a pic for the 'gram.
That said, deeply-colored flowers are often the most nutrient-rich (like all edible plants, edible flowers contain important vitamins and minerals). “The more colorful the plant and deeper the flavor, the more antioxidant power the plant usually has,” Seyfarth says.
If you're intrigued by flowering up your food, make sure to only purchase flowers marked as edible. “They are harder to find, but gourmet grocers usually have them," says Seyfarth.
From there, you'll want to prep your flowers a little differently than other fruits and vegetables. “Most flowers are very delicate and will be damaged by rough washing,” says Seyfarth, who recommends dipping edible flowers into a bowl of clean water and carefully hand-drying them.
Add some flower power to your next meal with one of the following 10 popular edible petals.