I love pansies, especially in the mid-winter months and especially during the Mardi Gras season! The pansy is a variety of viola that grows well either in the sun or the shade, but blooms best when it’s chilly. Another added bene-fit to growing pansies is that they are edible! Edible flowers have been used for centuries and have experienced a resurgence thanks to gourmet chefs and food-centric magazines. Growing and using edible flowers is a great way to add color to the landscape and exotic variety to the menu.
Pansies taste like a mild salad green, some with a hint of perfume, and can be used in everything from salads to punch to desserts. They are beautiful on a cake and are commonly sugared.
Crystallized Edible Flowers
Candied flowers and petals can be used in a variety of imaginative ways – to decorate cakes large and small – all kinds of sweet things, such as ice cream, sherbet, cremes, fruit salads, and cocktails.
- Egg White
- Super fine granulated sugar
- Assorted edible flowers
- Clean and dry your flowers or petals.
- Use a brush to paint a thin layer of egg white onto each side of the flower petals or blossoms.
- Gently place them into a shallow bowl of superfine sugar and sprinkle sugar over them to coat.
- Remove from the bowl, and place them on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and sprinkle more sugar over them.
- Allow them to dry uncovered in a cool place until the coating is crisp, about4-8 hours.
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container until using. Best used within a few days.
When growing ornamentals for their edible flowers, the plants need the same growing conditions as if you didn’t plan to eat the flowers. Those conditions vary depending on the variety of plants you are growing. One very important growing condition if you plan to eat the flowers, DO NOT treat them with insecticides or fungicides that are not labelled for vegetables that will be used for human consumption.
If you are interested in learning more about edible flowers, check out these websites:
- Edible flowers chart
- Edible flower guide (PDF)
- 23 edible flower recipes that are almost too pretty to eat
- Edible Flowers 101: How to Cook with Hibiscus, Nasturtium, Marigold and More
Thanks to Dr. Joe Willis and GNO Gardening from LSUAgCenter for inspiring me to write this article.