Henrietta Inman and her taste for edible flowers

6th Aug 2019

pistachio cake with edible flowers

Edible Flowers

I love to use edible flowers in my cooking, adding colour, flavour and texture to so many things in the kitchen. Whether finishing off a cake or tart with rose petals, scented geraniums or pansies or summer salads and other savoury dishes with chive or rocket flowers or nasturtiums, they’re such fun to use. Here's a full list of what I grow.

To finish sweet things I use roses, scented geraniums, pansies, primroses, lavender and rosemary flowers, tagetes, marigolds, dianthus, cornflowers, borage, bellis daisies, elderflowers and violas. Blossom is lovely too but I don’t like to pick too much of it. Some blossoms contain cyanide precursors and should be eaten in moderation also. To be honest, edible flowers, especially on sweet things, really are just pretty, delicate and colourful finishing touches. Personally, you won’t find me eating handfuls of pansies or daisies!

chocolate and pomegranate cake with rose petals

But, when it comes to those that I use for savoury dishes, with their peppery, distinct and fragrant flavours, I might be eating a few more! To finish savoury things I use chive, pea and courgette flowers, garlic chive flowers and nasturtiums. When herbs like dill and coriander and leaves like rocket and radicchio go to seed, the two former have beautiful little white flowers, whilst rocket flowers are white and yellow and radicchio flowers are pastel blue.

In larger gardens with grass and flower beds, once planted, the flowers will self-seed and you’ll have lots around in no time. In London, my garden is paved over so I grow all my flowers in pots which needs a bit more work but it's very manageable. They can be bought in garden centres and just potted out into beds or pots, using a mixture of soil and manure. Water regularly, depending on the climate, and don’t forget to deadhead! Don’t be scared. Gardening can be such a wonderful and calming thing and an important connection to nature when many of us live in towns and cities. Embrace it and look forward to becoming green-figured!

Henrietta Inman
Henrietta Inman
Guest Editor
Mark Cummings