How to collect edible flowers

Once you start looking at edible flowers, you realize that there is a surprisingly abundant variety of perfectly appetizing flowers.

I am not a cook, but I was surprised eating a small snack colored by the plants that I find here and there while walking through the mountains. Along the trail there is also a surprising number of flowers that can be found in the gardens.

Roses, strawberries, bluebells, and violets are among the colorful and tasty treats they taste—before the berries ripen, that is.

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However, when it comes to harvesting these treats, there are a few things you need to know to have a good petal-munching experience.

For how to decide when and how to harvest, as well as some details on storage if you’re near a refrigerator, read on!

This is what we will cover:

Table of Contents:

  • Edible Flower Considerations
  • when to pick up
  • Harvest and processing
  • storage
  • Using edible flowers
  • flower fodder

Edible Flower Considerations

When you’re considering picking flowers to eat, there are a few things to keep in mind before you bite into the beautiful petals.

Be sure to be positive about plant identification. Not all flowers are edible!

Pick from plants that have not been sprayed with chemicals. Do not eat the petals of the bouquet that your Valentine gave you at the florist, or that they picked up for you on the side of the road, or that they bought you at a garden center.

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Don’t eat whole flowers if you have a pollen allergy!

Before purchasing or harvesting a bunch, when you intend to use them for edible applications, try a sample to make sure you like the flavor and to confirm that they are at their peak, ready to be picked and enjoyed.

Also, be sure to inspect the flowers for insects before harvest.

Flowers damaged before harvest will not retain their shape or look good after harvest, so select perfect flowers only if you plan to use them as a cosmetic garnish.

when to pick up

Speaking of the best time to harvest, how do you know when they are ready to be picked and used, as well as chewed?

They should be in bloom, fully open, and not overripe (still developing from their bud, for example) or overripe, as they are just before wilting. Picking flowers to eat is not an alternate form of decay!

Plan to harvest during the coolest part of the day so they don’t wilt immediately after removal. The morning is the best time of the day, when the plants are plump and fresh. At this time, they also contain the maximum amount of aroma and flavor.

Wait for the dew to dry to make sure the delicate petals don’t stick together.

Harvest and processing

Harvesting instructions depend on the type of bloom.

The whole flower heads of some plants, such as dill or fennel, can be collected and used. For others, like roses, pluck the petals individually.

Lavender florets can also be harvested directly from the stem. Nasturtiums and violet flowers can be cut just below the flower with sharp scissors or by pinching with your fingernail.

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How you collect them also depends on what you plan to use them for. For example, if you plan to pick flowers to decorate a cake, it’s important to make sure the flowers are intact!

However, if you plan on drying them for use in teas, imperfect blooms are perfect.

Some, like squash blossoms, nasturtiums, and clover, can be eaten whole. However, with most, the delicately flavored and edible portion will be the petals.

All other flower parts, including pollen-bearing stamens and pistils, should be removed to improve flavor.

The sepals, or green petals at the base of the flower, are usually bitter. These can be removed for a better dining experience.

The white base of the petals, like what you see on rose petals, can also be bitter, so you may choose to cut those off as well.


Once collected, check for dirt. Submerge the flowers or petals in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt particles.

Don’t use a salad spinner to dry them, they are too brittle! Instead, let them dry on a paper towel.

It is best to use the flowers as soon as possible after harvest. But you can store them for up to a week by lining a basket or container with damp paper towels to keep them moist, placing the flowers on top, and putting them in the refrigerator.

Avoid plastic storage bags. They can be squeezed, attached to the bag, or attached to each other.

If your flowers wilt, they can sometimes be revived by letting them float in an ice water bath for a few minutes before using.

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You can also dry them in a dehydrator or low oven for use in herbal tea blends.

Using edible flowers

There are so many ways you can use edible flowers in the kitchen, in the oven or just sitting in your garden, sampling a flavor here and there or having a cold drink.

Add them to salads or garnish pizza after it comes out of the oven, freeze them in ice cubes to add to drinks or enhance your baking.

Think of toppings, sautés, fillings, jams, jellies, marinades, toppings… the list of possibilities is long!

To make your own sugar flowers at home for cake decorations, learn the simple method on our sister site, Foodal.

If you’re having a hard time deciding when to use one and where to use another, have a snack and let your palate tell you if it’s better suited for savory dishes, like chives and marigolds, or sweeter, like pansies. lavender.

For inspiration on what to try and how to use them, scroll through our guide to edible flowers. (Coming soon!)

flower fodder

Picking edible flowers may not be what you imagined spending the wee hours in your garden. Or maybe it was.

The task itself is a great break from cleaning and when you can wow your family and friends, or even just your taste buds, with your creations, it’s worth spending a little more here and cutting back there.

Have you ever grown or used edible flowers? Which one did you grow and what did they know? Let me know how you’ve used them in your culinary adventures in the comments below.

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Also, read more about edible flowers in these guides:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

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