Edible Wild Flowers: Tasty Ways To Harvest and Eat
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FOOD + DRINK

Edible Wild Flowers: Tasty Ways to Harvest and Eat Them


From a sprinkle of petals on a salad to a heady floral syrup, edible wild flowers lend unique and ephemeral qualities to many dishes. Flowers are cultivated for use in traditional cuisines all over the world. Add edible wild flowers from your neighbourhood to any classic recipes.

A Note On Foraging Flowers

As always, avoid harvesting in areas that are polluted, sprayed, or frequented by dogs. Harvest only a small portion of the flowers in an area. Leave enough for the next person, animal, or pollinator. Keep in mind that flowers turn into fruits and seeds that feed wildlife and allow the plant to reproduce. The berries and fruits may also be prime for harvesting later in the season, so pick conservatively. Read more foraging tips

Harvest only a small portion of the flowers in an area. Leave enough for the next person, animal, or pollinator. Keep in mind that wild flowers turn into fruits and seeds that feed wildlife and allow the plant to reproduce. The berries and fruits may also be prime for harvesting later in the season, so pick conservatively. Read more foraging tips here.

Dandelion

Dandelion Edible Wild Flowers

One of the most versatile and nutritious edible plants is also one of the most abundant. As the bane of many gardeners, the humble dandelion (Taraxacum spp.) lends a sunny boost to sweet and savoury meals.

Sprinkle the petals on salads, cookies, or use the whole flower in fritters. Have an entire lawn of dandelions to harvest? Try dandelion wine or jelly.

White and Red Clover

red clover edible flowers
Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) receives much of the attention in foraging and herbalism due to its reputed cleansing and healing qualities.  White clover (Trifolium repens) shares many of the same attributes.

Try making a tea with the flowers of either variety to boost movement in the circulatory and lymphatic systems and to ease skin issues. This medicinal white clover pudding recipe sounds divine.

Red Elderberry

Edible Wild Flowers Elderflower

Most parts of our native red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa callicarpa) are considered toxic except for the flowers. The fragrant white sprays impart a tropical banana/pineapple flavour to recipes.

Harvest the whole flower spray just as the tiny florets have opened for best flavour. Remove the tiny flowers from the stem with a fork or hands. The flowers shine in beverages where their flavour can be the star of the show, such as lemonades and light cocktails (see recipe below). Namasthé Tea Company has a delicious recipe for elderflower lemon cordial for use in sodas and cocktails! Edible wild flowers.

Magnolia

edible wild flowers Magnolia

Showy magnolia flowers (Magnolia spp.) have a fresh, spicy, flavour. Interestingly, the plant evolved millions of years ago before bees existed, so it relies on beetles for pollination. Beetles are not gentle pollinators, so magnolia petals became leathery to withstand being chomped on. The petals can be

The petals can be pickled and used like pickled ginger, or infused in vinegar or syrup for myriad uses.

Nootka Rose

Rose Edible Wild Flowers
Photo: Michalina Hunter

Roses of all kinds have been used for food, beauty, and rituals for a millennium. Some ornamental roses have had the fragrance bred out of them.  However, wild roses – including the Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) on the West Coast – contain a delicate rose aroma in their petals. Pick the petals in the early afternoon and use fresh for syrup, desserts, salads, beverages, jellies, wine, or infused honey. Dry the petals and rosebuds for beautiful tea blends to enjoy all year long.

Pick the petals in the early afternoon and use fresh for syrup, desserts, salads, beverages, jellies, wine, or infused honey. Dry the petals and rosebuds for beautiful tea blends to enjoy all year long.

Wild Fermented Forest Soda

Edible Wild Flowers Soda
Photo: Michalina Hunter

A great way to appreciate the delicate flavours from edible flowers is fermented soda. The wild yeasts on the flowers eat the sugar and create a refreshing effervescent beverage.

Soda Recipe: Edible Wild Flowers

  1. Simply harvest some edible flowers. For the photo above, I used maple, salmonberry, Oregon grape, and red elderberry flowers, some greens for flavour (I used wild ginger leaves and some douglas fir tips), and a few lemon rounds. Then I put it all in a litre jar.
  2. Dissolve a quarter cup of honey or sugar into one litre of water and pour over flowers and leaves. (A splash of probiotic culture such as a ginger bug, kombucha, or water kefir, can be added to kickstart fermentation.)
  3. Cover jar with fabric or a coffee filter to allow air exchange, and place it on a counter.
  4. Stir the soda vigorously with a clean spoon twice a day. When lots of bubbles form, bottle the soda in flip top bottles (the ones from Howe Sound Brewing are the safest as they can withstand a lot of pressure from bubbles).
  5. Transfer to the fridge after a day or two when carbonation has built up. Open the bottles very slowly in case they are very pressurized. Enjoy!

Michalina Hunter

The author Michalina Hunter

Michalina Hunter is a beekeeper and urban homesteading enthusiast in Squamish, BC. When she’s not gardening, you can find her whipping up herbal potions. Follow the bee adventures at www.greenbeehoney.ca
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