I’m sometimes asked for ideas on how to use flowers in food and drinks, so I thought it would be useful to share a few great books about choosing and cooking with edible flowers.
Cooking with Flowers by Miche Bacher
This is a proper cook book, with stunning photographs and absolutely loads of sweet and savoury edible flower recipes. Each section has an introductory description of the flower, its background and seasonality and, really usefully, measurements (e.g. x number of petals = 1 cup). What I really like about this book, aside from how damn pretty it is, is that the dishes vary in level of difficulty and complexity. There’s a recipe for simple pansy pancakes, if you don’t want to get too involved but still want to make something that will look beautiful on a plate and there’s goats cheese nasturium ice cream for more fancy pants cooks.
The Herb & Flower Cookbook by Pip McCormac
This is another one with really gorgeous photos and lots of recipes which are handily organised into types of meals (breakfast, sides, lunch etc). For anyone new to using herbs and flowers the thesaurus at the beginning of the book is great, giving a run down on flavour, when to pick and what foods to use them with. It also includes sowing and planting guides. There do seem to be more recipes for using herb leaves than edible flowers but the flower recipes are particularly appetising. How lovely does honeysuckle and blackberry cheesecake sound?
The Edible Flower Garden by Kathy Brown
If you search online for Kathy Brown and her beautiful edible flower garden in Bedford you’ll find she runs group visits in the summer with demonstrations and a floral afternoon tea. That’s definitely on my list of places to go! This book is a little different from the previous two because it goes into more about gardening flowers as well as cooking with them. It includes an interesting background to the use of edible flowers throughout history and around the world as well as a very valuable guide on gathering and preparing flowers to eat. The recipes are super easy and I would say this makes a great introductory book into the world of growing and creating floral food.
The Garden Forager by Adele Nozedar
This book is like the most beautiful floral encyclopedia you’ve ever seen. The images of the plants and flowers are all illustrated rather than photographed, detailing petals, leaves, stems and fruit. Horticulturalists can enjoy getting geeky about the detailed descriptions of the origins of the plants, their names, where they grow and their medicinal as well as culinary uses. Cooks can learn about using flowers and plants they may not have tried before and make delicious things with hop petals or juneberries. This definitely goes beyond the regular edible flowers we know well and you’ll probably learn lots of new things too.
Eat Your Roses by Denise Schreiber
This little trickster of a book isn’t just about eating roses, it has fifty-ish other flowers in it too. I think of this as a really quick little reference guide with one page for each flower showing a photo, description, uses and anything else of particular interest. This is a good starter book that can help you decide which flowers you’d like to use with some sweet and savoury recipes at the end to get you started.