How To Use Edible Flowers For Plating

If you've never used flowers in the kitchen before, you're in for a treat. Plating techniques using edible flowers are a great fix when your dinner dish needs a dash of color.

Planting your own flowers means you'll never run out of color combinations for your plates — and you'll have something pretty to look at in your garden, too. The United States Department of Agriculture provides a map of the country's plant hardiness zones to help you determine when it's best for you to start growing. There are many types of flowers suitable for eating, but some flowers look prettier than they taste. Here's a list of flowers that not only dress up a plate but also add a boost of flavor.

Flowering Herbs

Many types of herbs, such as basil, produce flowers that can also be eaten. The flavor of flowers from fresh herb plants is usually milder than the leaves, which are what you typically eat. Basil plants bloom lovely purple flowers that can be picked off and added to salad or dessert plates as an edible garnish.

Marigolds

Don't assume any type of flower is edible or that all flowers were grown to be eaten. Flowers like marigolds are typically grown for decoration and may be coated with pesticides or other chemicals, according to The Atlantic. It's best to check before harvesting or buying blossoms that they're safe for culinary use. If you've sourced safe-to-eat marigolds, try garnishing your pickled appetizer or vegetable dish with the blossoms.

Violas

Flowers are a beautiful garnish for small sandwiches and salads, which make a lovely light lunch on any afternoon. Try this recipe for a green salad from Martha Stewart, which utilizes violas atop a bed of baby greens. As the name suggests, most violas are violet, but they come in an array of colors. Think about complementary colors for the food when choosing flowers to garnish your plates.

Pansies

In the art of plating, soup is notoriously tricky. A floral garnish can really spruce up a drab bowl of soup. Accompany your meal with a soup garnished with pansies, such as this recipe from Driscoll's. Pansies are one of the most commonly used edible flowers, so experiment with the variety of colors. Revitalize limp flowers by submerging the blossoms in ice water before using.

Nasturtiums

Next time you're making ice for a party, try making edible flower ice cubes, as presented by The View from Great Island. Served in clear glasses, these floral cubes will add a lovely touch of color to a simple glass of water or a cocktail. While any type of edible flower may be used, the orange petals of nasturtiums look great in ice cubes. Nasturtiums can also spruce up a brunch or seafood plate.

Candied Flowers

The color and beauty of edible flowers can be utilized in many out-of-the-box ways. Add an extra coating of sweetness by making candied edible flowers, as Tyler Florence demonstrates. Candied flowers are great for topping cakes or other desserts, and will hold up better than freshly cut flowers.

The National Gardening Association provides an extensive list of edible flowers. Grow your own for maximum convenience or buy blooms from a local gardening center that grows flowers for eating. Kept slightly moist, edible flowers may be stored in the refrigerator for at least one week. Soon, flowers will become part of your culinary routine.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons