If you thought flowers are only for display, these 11 popular edible flowers and their shelf life will change your mind!
What are Edible Flowers? How are they used?
The use of flowers go beyond aesthetics. Did you know there are edible flowers? Chances are that you have used some.
Edible flowers can be safely ingested. When it comes to consumption, edible flowers are popularly used to make herbal teas.
Apart from this, they make eye-catching garnishes and decorative pieces for desserts, cocktails, drinks as well as on food stands.
Additionally, you can also incorporate them in savory dishes like salads, soups, sandwiches and wraps.
Moreover, you can make flower-infused syrups, candied flowers, flowered sugar or infused water for drinking.
Besides being consumed, here are other ways edible flowers are used:
- They are popularly infused in a wide range of cosmetic items. These include; skin lotions, body butter, facial masks and hair products.
- Infused in handmade soaps.
- For therapeutic purposes – the scent or incense of numerous edible flowers are used in holistic practices like Ayurveda, body massage, body baths and meditation.
- Ground into powder and applied topically when mixed with a liquid.
- Edible flowers can be extracted into essential oils.
- For ornamental uses – dried edible flowers are usually laminated into decorative items.
- To produce natural dye
11 Popular Edible Flowers
These flowers belong to the Asteraceae family. Its use dates back to antiquity, with ancient Egyptians making use of it. Chamomile is popularly used in aromatherapy. It boasts of numerous benefits like calming nerves, relieving menstrual cramps, facilitating digestion as well as for household use an insect repellant.
These purple blossoms add elegant beauty to any space. Lavender flowers are some of the most versatile, with endless uses. Lavender tea is touted for its ability to detoxify the body, improve sleep and reduce inflammation. It is also an antibacterial balm for skin.
This flower is renowned for its tarty, cranberry like flavor. Hibiscus is popular in Mexican cuisines, but is equally enjoyed all over the world. Infused hibiscus flowers give off an inviting crimson hue. It is well known for its antibacterial properties, is high in antioxidants, helps lower cholesterol levels and is effective in weight control.
Dandelion may have rubbed you off in a negative way. It is a common weed which grows wildly. However, you can make good culinary use of it – the entire plant is edible. It is choke full of vitamins and minerals. Dandelion boasts of benefits such as: fighting inflammation, promotes healthy liver, contains rich antioxidants which fight off cancer and helps to lower cholesterol.
All rose varieties are edible. Nonetheless, the flavor component varies. Cooking with rose is popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. Dried rose petals are ground and mixed with herbs and spices. They make a wonderful dry rub for meat. As a drink, rose is famous for its diuretic properties, boosts immunity and wades off infections due to vitamin C.
This tongue-twisting flower name is another popular Chinese herbal tea. They have used it for ages as it boasts of potent benefits. These include: fighting inflammation, alleviating respiratory illnesses, regulating hyperthyroidism and facilitates a calming effect on nerves.
Wild violets not only add a bespoke feel, they benefit the body immensely. They are high in essential vitamins and minerals. When consumed, they help boost immunity, helps in detoxifying the body and reduce respiratory infections. They make an effective poultice for body aches. Additionally, they are antiseptic, hence can be topically applied on cuts and bruises.
You probably know it as calendula. It is highly revered in the world of herbal teas. Marigold is lauded for nourishing and improving skin health, contains antiseptic and antifungal properties as well as antioxidants which protect against free radicals. It also helps relieve IBS symptoms.
Commonly shortened to ‘glads’, these flowers have a mild, subtle flavor. Also referred to as sword lilies, they pair well with both sweet and savory meals. It is a popular remedy for stomach related illnesses. It is believed to alleviate constipation, reduce cramps as well as soothe nerves.
Lilac shrubs are not new to the world of herbal medicine. They have been used medicinally for ages. The astringent properties of lilac flowers work well on cleaning wounds. They also help to relieve constipation.
Apart from the pretty, vibrant petals, you can also make good use of nasturtium leaves. Both contain plenty of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system. Nasturtium is also effectively used for UTIs and respiratory ailments. It is lauded for its antimicrobial properties and also aids in digestion.
Besides adding cheerful vibes when displayed, pansies offer nutritious benefits too. They have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. They are popularly used in alleviating skin and respiratory problems.
Whereas this is not an exhaustive list, I can bet you have learned something new about edible flowers.
Shelf Life of Edible Flowers
Flowers are extremely perishable. The general rule of the thumb is – use as soon as possible. In view of that, here is a brief guideline of how long they can last:
How long do fresh edible flowers last? (On the counter)
In order for fresh flowers to survive, you have to keep them in water. This way, you can safely display them on any surface – tables or counters.
With proper care, fresh flowers can last fairly long:
- Before putting flowers in a vase, cut the stalk at an angle – this helps water to permeate effectively.
- Change the vase water daily
- Keep the petals hydrated – sprinkle water on them.
- Keep away from direct sunlight
Properly kept fresh flowers have a shelf life ranging from 3-10 days.
Shelf life of fresh edible flowers (In the fridge)
Flowers keep well in the refrigerator. Ensure they are in their vase. However, refrigeration works best for overnight storage. The cool temperatures slow down metabolism, hence mitigates wilting, thereby prolonging the shelf life. Such flowers remain in good state for up to 14 days.
How long do cooked edible flowers last?
Some recipes incorporate edible flowers and blossoms.
The shelf life of cooked flowers used sorely depends on the fastest spoiling ingredient.
Shelf life of herbal tea bags made from edible flowers (In the pantry)
Dried tea bags keep well in the pantry. Store in their original packages or in airtight containers. Keep away from direct heat, light and moisture. When properly stored, they last up to 2 years. Use your taste buds to identify loss of potency within this time.
How long does prepared herbal tea last? (In the fridge)
In case of leftover tea, refrigerate and consume within 3 days. Alternatively, you can pour into ice molds, freeze and consume a bit at a time – for up to 8 months.
How to preserve edible flowers at home
Dehydrating is effective in prolonging the shelf life of any food. You can dry flowers naturally in the sunlight, in the oven or in a food dehydrator.
- Only dry the petals. Clean them well before arranging on a single layer.
- Dry thoroughly until crisp.
- At this point, you can store them in an airtight container. Alternatively, grind into powder.
Well dried flowers remain in good quality for up to 2 years.
Do edible flowers spoil?
Yes! It is fairly easy to identify spoilage:
- Wilting indicates the onset of decay.
- Slimy petals.
- Black spots on petals.
- Loss of flavor means it is time to replace.