KUSA - If you like growing your own vegetables, you might as well take it one step further.
Edible flowers make salads and stir-fries fun. Some flowers taste bold and spicy while others are mild and sweet. If you grow your own, you can be sure they're organically grown and pesticide-free.
The flowers with the most distinct flavors include chives, nasturtium, hyssop, agastache (hummingbird mint), bee balm, lavender, marigold, dill, fennel, citrus and scented geraniums. Milder flavored flowers include sunflower, squash, pansies, violets, roses, daylilies, hibiscus, mums and all members of the carnation family (Dianthus).
Usually the petals of flowers are used for salads or garnish, but sometimes the entire flower is used, such as those of squash or daylilies, which are often dipped in batter and fried. Squash blossoms have become increasingly popular at farmer's markets.
Some flowers may be used in desserts or candy. Scented geraniums, lavender and roses may be used in baking, while candied violets are an old-fashioned treat. The spicy petals of carnation family flowers are delightful floated in summer drinks. Bee balm (Monarda) is the ingredient that puts the tang in Earl Grey tea. Other flowers that may be used in home-brewed tea include hibiscus, orange or lemon blossoms and rose hips.
Don't graze indiscriminately from your garden. Many plants that are commonly grown are toxic if ingested. Daffodils, sweet peas, castor beans, morning glories and oleander should definitely not be added to a salad. Once you know which flowers are edible, however, you can make a boring salad a special occasion for your guests.
Flowers are courtesy of Tagawa Gardens.
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