I love flowers. The bigger, wilder, and more unstructured the better. For me, floral arrangements play such a big role in styling any wedding but what about taking your flower arranging a step further and incorporating edible flowers into your food and cocktail hour? A little bit of know how and a wedding venue that will corporate with your styling plans is all you really need to recreate an incredibly pretty floral food or drinks display that will really make jaws drop. I’ve used edible florals a few times now and honestly, the hardest part was finding edible flowers in Ireland – after that, you can’t really go wrong. It’s also worth remembering that fruit and herbs are just as pleasing to the eye and come without having to check, double check and triple check that they are safe to eat. As a general rule, stick to the petals. They are prettier and the safest and can be sugared for desserts if you are a bit nervous of serving them up au natural.
Here is a few of the edible flowers that I have come across, mainly in Fallon and Byrne in Dublin and a guide to what they tasted like.
Nasturtium; Nasturtium comes in a variety of colours and has a very subtle, savoury taste that is probably more suited to salads than sweet cocktails or desserts.
Viola; Viola’s look very pretty and can be used as a garnish in cocktails and salads or frozen in ice. They have a sweeter taste making them good for desserts
Rose; The rose tastes as sweet as it sounds and probably my personal favourite garnish on desserts and cocktails.
Mallow; I love the look of this pale flower and the leaves can be used as a sweet garnish even though their flavour is quite mild.
Impatiens; Impatiens are sweet tasting and are great for floating in cocktails. They come in a beautiful range of colours too.
Hibiscus; Slightly tangy in flavour and a beautiful colour, so it’s one of my favourites. The hibiscus flower is often compared to the cranberry so that should give you an idea of how versatile it is.
Pansies; I used these only last week and they floated beautifully on my home made cocktails! I was told by the girls that they made the cocktail look too good to drink…then they knocked them back! It was decided that there wasn’t a whole lo of flavour from them, probably because there was too much alcohol in the champagne but they looked great!
How to Use Edible Flowers
For weddings and small parties, you can garnish salads with fresh flowers. Desserts also look great with fresh, dried and sugared petals and for cocktails, a floating flower is just so pretty. Chill wine and champagne on flowers frozen in ice or have the bar serve flowered ice cubes in signature cocktails or even water! If you are going to do it though and use edible flowers, don’t be mean! Use loads of them, not one little piece of ice with a single flower floating miserably on it’s own in a glass… more is more!
Edible flowers can be really hard to get at home, never mind for your wedding abroad. Ask your venue or caterers first whether they can supply them and try locate gourmet food stores in the area. Having said that, Mike and I were in Vienna at the start of the year and they were the first things we came across when we walked into the Eurospar next to our hotel. I’d say, don’t count on getting them but treat as a huge bonus if you do. Fruit and herbs will be easier to locate abroad.
✈ Only use flowers bought packaged as edible flowers from the shops. Don’t use flowers from a florist as they will have been treated in a way as to preserve the flowers for longer and will therefore be toxic when ingested
✈ Examine the flowers carefully to make sure they haven’t been eaten by insects already
✈ Just prior to using flowers or petals in salad dunk them in ice water to freshen them.
Some flowers are toxic and very dangerous to eat so do your homework before using them! This guide to edible flowers is very useful as it highlights flowers that are classed as edible, what they taste like and most importantly, associated warnings.
French ✈ fleurs comestibles | Spanish ✈ flores comestibles | Italian ✈ fiori commestibili | Danish ✈ spiselige blomster | German ✈ essbaren Blüten | Maltese ✈ fjuri li jittieklu| Portuguese ✈ flores comestíveis| Dutch ✈ eetbare bloemen | Swedish ✈ ätbara blommor