In this day and age it is very easy to lose touch with where our food comes from. We are so used to going to the supermarket and picking up pre-packaged foods whenever we like. Caring for a garden or an allotment revitalises this tangible connection to food. You can’t beat the taste and nutrition of home grown produce, so fresh it is still growing when you bite into it!
We can all identify the obvious crops we grow on the veggie patch, such as carrots, lettuce, beetroots, beans and brassicas, but you may be surprised to learn that many of our common garden plants are edible too. Here are a few:
Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) petals, have an intense colour and a peppery taste, ideal for sprinkling on salads, as are both the leaves and flowers of Nasturium (Tropaeolummajus).
Sunflower (Helianthusannuus) petals can be used to garnish salads and as we all know the seeds are healthy and delicious.
The flowers of Pansies (Violaodorata), Primroses (Primula vulgaris) and Cowslips (Primula veris) can be eaten whole and are often candied to decorate spring time cakes.
Surprisingly even the petals of the common Daisies (Bellis perennis) are edible, although not particularly flavoursome.
Another unusual edible flower is that of the Day lily (Hemerocallis), which can be added to stir fries, salads and soups. Beware however as they can have a laxative effect!
Most of us are familiar with Elderflower (Sambucus nigra). The flowers are used to make cordials and presse, but my favourite treat is elderflower fritters. The flowers are battered, deep fried and dipped in sugar, yum! Interestingly, with exception of the berries, all other parts of the elder are poisonous.
The most important thing before eating anything you forage, is that you are 100% sure you have identified the plant correctly. There are equally as many toxic and deadly plants as there are tasty edible ones!It is also advisable to avoid eating old faded flowers, plants that could have been sprayed with pesticides, plants that are exposed to fumes near roads and areas frequented by pets. People who suffer from allergies should be extra cautious too, as they may be more susceptible to harmful reactions from edible flowers.
If you are interested in finding out more about incredible edibles in your garden and the surrounding countryside then I can recommend the book “Food for Free” written by Richard Mabey.
Disclaimer: This blog it meant as an informative guide on which common flowers are edible. Easton Walled Gardens accept no responsibility for individuals who decide to consume any of the flowers mentioned. Please forage responsibly and carefully!