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Edible Flowers – All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce

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Last Updated: Feb 25, 2022

What are edible flowers?

Ah, edible flowers—the belles of the culinary world. Revered for their colorful aesthetics, these blooms also hold their own in terms of fragrance and flavor. To illustrate, a cup of freshly brewed dried lavender buds leaves a potent aftertaste. When used fresh, the same blossom is renowned for its mild floral scent in bakes and desserts. And this example is just the tip of the iceberg when showcasing the long-standing culinary tradition of edible flowers.

Edible flowers aren’t limited to wedding cakes and cafe menus. Add edible flowers to home-cooked dishes whenever the recipe calls for it, or you’re feeling fancy.

Where did edible flowers originate from?

The concept of edible flowers isn’t a recent TikTok trend or passing food fad. In fact, the origins of floral-esque cooking and baking can be traced all the way back to 3,000 B.C.E.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and you will see edible flowers used in just about everything—teas, cocktails, cakes, bread, salads, sauces, syrups, meats, fish, and more.

What is the nutritional value of edible flowers? 

Edible flowers are pretty to look at, but did you know they are nourishing too? Research shows edible flowers are a source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Riboflavins
  • Niacin
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Iron
  • Potassium

It just goes to show how much flower power these blooms are packing. If you want to reap the nutritious benefits of edible flowers, add them to your cart on Instacart.

How are edible flowers grown?

Edible flowers come from herbs, vegetables, and fruits—think chervil, squash blossoms, and banana flowers in that order. Despite their varied origins, edible flowers are grown the same way as ornamental flowers, minus the insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

Depending on individual species and available growing space, edible flowers may be cultivated in soil or containers. You can even grow them at home in small pots and window boxes. The moment the petals fully bloom, they are picked and packaged for optimum freshness before landing in local grocery stores.

When are edible flowers in season?

The availability of fresh edible flowers varies according to seasonality. For instance, lavender is usually commonplace from late spring to summer. On the other hand, begonias tend to be in season from early summer to frost. You should also know that certain species, like pansies and violas, flower year-round.

If you want to check which edible flowers are in season right now, open Instacart to browse our curated selection.

How do you pick edible flowers at the grocery store?

Always remember that edible flowers are different from commercially sold flowers. When buying edible flowers at the grocery store, choose from the produce area rather than the florist section. Pick flowers that look fresh and perky in vibrant colors. Avoid those with mold, dark spots, and insect holes.

Since you’re consuming these flowers, you’ll also want to choose pesticide-free blooms as much as possible. For peace of mind, go with organic edible flowers. These will be labeled organic, or you can check with the grocery store personnel.

Looking for edible flowers in your area? Instacart offers fresh produce delivery in as short as two hours. After adding edible flowers to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to share with your Instacart shopper specific preferences or directions on choosing the freshest blooms. Shop edible flowers.

How to store edible flowers

The shelf life of edible flowers depends on the bloom variety and size. Small, delicate blossoms usually have shorter longevity than larger, sturdier ones. It’s best to use them as fresh as possible, which means purchasing them the day before using or on the actual day itself.

If you don’t anticipate using the flowers either today or tomorrow, take these steps to preserve their freshness for as long as possible:

  1. Dampen paper towels before wrapping them around the edible flowers
  2. Place the wrapped flowers in an airtight container or plastic bag before refrigerating

Edible flowers stored this way usually keep for a few days to a week. On the other hand, if you’ve bought edible flowers with stalks attached, you can pop them into a vase or bottle of water and leave them there overnight.

But, what if your flowers look wilted before they have a chance to make it into (or on top of) your dishes? Here’s what you can do:

  • Take a flat bowl and fill it with cold water
  • Sprinkle the flowers on the surface of the water and let them float for a short while
  • Remove the flowers from the bowl and lay them on a dry paper towel to air-dry

You will now notice the edible flowers are revived and ready to take center stage on your culinary creations.

How to tell if edible flowers are bad

Usually, wilting is the first sign that your edible flowers have gone bad—think droopy petals in faded hues. The petal edges may also sport brown spots or decay. Lastly, a sniff is sufficient to tell if their scent has disappeared or turned unpleasant.

What can I substitute for edible flowers?

As not all varieties of edible flowers are available throughout the year, there are 2 ways to substitute them:

  • Appearance: If you’re intent on specific colors and textures, you can try annual flowers in the same shades. Need to spice up your plates with some reds? Try geraniums.
  • Aroma: if you’re particular about the flower’s taste and/or fragrance, try herbs, spices, or even veggies with a similar flavor profile. For instance, squash blossoms taste just like raw squash, albeit in a milder intensity.

Boost your eats with flower power

Edible flowers are a fun twist to your usual eats and keep things interesting with their colors, scents, and textures. The trick is to know which edible flowers are safe for consumption and how to pick the freshest ones possible.

Use your newfound knowledge to boost your palate with some flower power. Instacart offers same-day delivery for fresh produce near you. Shop edible flowers

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