July is one of the best times to collect edible flowers from the garden. Often the flowers are used to provide a colourful garnish, but many can also flavour both savoury and sweet dishes. When using edible flowers, always remember that proper identification of flowers is essential – if you are in doubt, don’t eat! You can find more of our edible flower tips here.
Here are my favourite 5 flowers from the July garden.
Hardy Perennial– the flowers have a clove-like flavour ideal for adding to cakes as flavoured sugar, oils and vinegars. Laced Monarch has a strong scent, and dark red ‘Passion’ is striking on iced cakes.
Hardy Shrub – all roses are edible with the more fragrant roses being the best. Petals can be crystallized, used to flavour drinks, fillings and icing for summer cakes. Often rosewater is added to give a depth of flavour to sponges and fillings. Many of the David Austin roses are beautifully scented – Gertrude Jekyll is very popular and we have Louise Odier (pink), Rose de Rescht(dark crimson) and the Generous Gardener (pale pink) here at Fieldcrest, all beautifully scented.
Scented geraniums (Pelagonium)
Tender Perennial– flowers are milder than leaves and can be crystallized or frozen in ice cubes for summer cordials and used for flavourings and in cakes. Small flowered pelargoniums such as fragrans (small white flowers and citrus scent) and sweet mimosa (small pink rose scented) are easy to grow and use.
Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Annual– Marigolds are strongly coloured and have a mild peppery taste useful in soups, stews and puddings. Petals can be dried or pickled in vinegar or added to oil or butter. The ordinary yellow or orange garden marigolds look lovely scattered over a salad or decorating sticky toffee pudding! The flowers should be eaten in moderation, and some people may be allergic so do check before eating too many.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Annual – Nasturtiums also have brightly-coloured, peppery flowers and are good in salads and pasta dishes. The whole flower, leaves, and buds can be used or just the petals for a milder flavour. We usually think of the flowers as being orange, but you can buy creamy yellow (Buttermaid), crimson (Empress of India), and a smaller, less vigorous variety called Tom Thumb – all of these are available as seeds from Thompson and Morgan.