Not ready to try your green thumb with vegetables or herbs? That’s ok – you can still eat what you grow! There are myriad blooms that will grace your dinner table as beautifully as they will your garden.
Today we’re sharing six garden gems that offer stunning autumn color and will make you look like a pro in the kitchen. They’re as gorgeous as they are tasty, so see which ones you’d like to plant – or serve on a plate!
What flower is more iconic during autumn than Chrysanthemum? The bold reds, bright yellows and brilliant oranges make these a favorite for a reason. They’re also easy companions – grow them in a planter or a pot on your windowsill as easily as in a garden bed.
The petals and leaves are edible but the heel of the flower is rather bitter, so trim the stem and the white parts at the base of the petals before you dine.
Greens can be steamed or boiled – but only briefly or you risk turning them into mush! Thirty seconds or so should be more than enough. The have a mildly grassy sweet taste and are popular in Asian cooking. Serve them with a sesame or miso dressing for a light, bright salad.
Depending on the variety, petals can range in flavor from peppery to tangy, bitter, and even sweet. You can eat them raw or blanch them if you want to tame a more assertive flavor. Add them to soup, eggs, potatoes, or turn them into tea for a perfect beverage on chilly fall evenings.
These charmingly ruffled flowers look stunning in shades of pink, red, orange, yellow, purple and white. Flowers only last about ten days but that makes them perfect for snacking – cutting stalks will encourage new blooms, which is a boon for your garden and your dinner plate.
Both flowers and leaves are edible and have a bitter taste that is reminiscent of dandelion or radicchio greens. The flowers are the milder of the two and work exceptionally well when candied and added to desserts.
If you’re a fan of bitterness, you can chop them into rice, add them to potato salad, or top other greens for color and texture.
As an added bonus, flowers can be pickled, which will preserve them long after their time in the garden has come to an end. Use pickled flowers as a garnish for a truly impressive dish.
They’re big, they’re bold, they’re colorful – and they might resemble a bath poof more than a meal companion but Dahlia can offer a variety of intriguing flavors.
They’re related to sunflowers and all parts are edible, with some varieties being more flavorful than others. Some resemble the taste of a water chestnut – fairly mild and a bit nutty – while others bring a spiced apple taste to the table, and still others can bring everything from carrot to asparagus flavors.
With so much variety, sampling them on your plate will be as enjoyable as seeing them bloom in your garden. Chop petals into salsas, add them to rice, or make a real statement with a full bloom as a garnish for a fresh fish dinner. Nobody will doubt your culinary prowess again!
Speaking of Sunflowers, you know you can eat the seeds, but did you know that these garden sentinels are edible from root to tip? Petals can be plucked and eaten right from the flower. Add them to pasta, salads and soups for a deliciously nutty, floral flavor.
But get ready because we’re about to change how you think about these summertime staples. There’s a new food trend in town, and it’s grilled sunflower. Everyone from novice cooks to professional chefs are putting the entire head of a sunflower onto the grill and sinking their teeth into a nutty corn-like goodness. It will take on the flavor of whatever you put on it, so go for a light salting if you want to experience the essence of the flower, or use a spice mixture or sauce of your choice.
The trick to this delicacy is to grab the flower while it’s still immature, when seeds are soft and before they develop their hard shell. That’s all the excuse you need to keep sampling and planting all season long.
This unassuming flower is so common as to be overlooked, but it’s such a versatile bloom, both on and off the plate, that it would be a shame not to have a few in your summer and autumn garden. They grow as well in the ground as they do in pots, and will add color to your autumn garden long after other blooms have faded.
When it comes to eating them, be cautious – some varieties are edible while others are not. Be sure that you have a cultivar that is safe for consumption before you dine. Once you have an edible option, both leaves and petals can be enjoyed, with flavors that range from citrus to tarragon.
Petals are as perfect in stews and soups as they are in rice and vegetable dishes, in sauces for meats and fish, stirred into eggs, added to bread dough or mixed into cakes. Marigolds are referred to as “poor man’s saffron” because petals will impart their rich colors into dishes in much the same way, for a fraction of the cost.
For anyone who has taken a foray into edible flowers, Nasturtium is perhaps the most familiar option. It is one of the most widely used and recognized blooms. You have probably seen a few topping a cake or pastry at your local bakery.
Their gently curving petals bring all your favorite autumn colors – red, yellow, orange, and some that are variegated. Flowers are leaves can both be eaten, adding fantastic color and a peppery spiciness to everything from salads to quiche.
They are best eaten fresh and raw, so instead of cooking them into your dishes, use them as a lovely and tasty garnish. You can even place a few on a sandwich and turn an ordinary ham and cheese into something refreshingly unique in both taste and appearance.
The flavor of the flower gets spicier as the day wears on, so depending on your preference you can pick them in the morning for a milder flavor or later in the day if you want them to pack more of a flavor punch.
With so many edible flowers to choose from, why not add a few to your autumn garden? They’ll brighten up the season with color just as they’ll liven up a meal with their flavors and beauty. If you’d like to talk about designing a landscape that can go from garden to table, contact us for a consultation. We’d love to show you how to create a four-season landscape that you can enjoy with all your senses.