Having easy edible flower recipes in your list of fun senior and elderly activities will add an interesting and probably new experience. They will add elegance and pizzazz to whatever you are serving, be it a full-fledged party or special dessert. And they’re especially fun to use in the winter when the bad-weather blahs may have hit.
Edible flowers have been popular in various places in Europe for quite some time and is actually an ancient tradition. Lately they have been making a come-back in the U.S.
My daughter recently returned from Europe and brought me a jar of home-made Rose Jam from a farmer’s market in Moldova. It is sweet and delicious with a hint of rose flavor and aroma. Perhaps you know someone who used to make jam – this would be an easy project for them to research and teach to a group to make.
So here are a few things to do with edible flowers, and things you should know about them. For a flower to be truly edible, you must be certain of a few things. Learning about and working with edible flowers creates all sorts of opportunities for senior activities, and can be modified for the more elderly as well.
My Friend’s Tips
The following are a few tips from a friend of mine who specializes in growing and gathering herbs and flowers to use in her own natural products.
Facts About Edible Flowers
- In order to be edible, the flowers must be either designated as “edible” at a store or through a catalog, indicating there were no chemicals or pesticides used.
- A farmer’s market or specialty food store may carry them.
- If you buy them, make sure they are organic.
- It is best not to buy your flowers from a florist or garden store. They probably have used chemicals so cannot be used in any edible flower recipes.
- If you grow your own flowers, do not ever use pesticides.
- If you gather your flowers — my friend advises that if you pick them in the wild, be sure to stay at least 50 feet away from any road or highway.
- When using edible flower recipes, cut your flowers close to the blossom, preferably just before you are ready to use them. Gathering early in the morning when they are fresh and dewy is best, says my friend.
- Be sure to always thoroughly wash the plants to get rid of bugs and debris like seeds, twigs, dirt, etc.
- Caution: — Be sure to learn about your flowers – certain flower parts may be toxic or inedible. For instance, for certain flowers, it may be okay to use petals. But leaves and berries could be poisonous.
- Also be aware whether anyone in your group has serious plant allergies.
Popular Edible Flowers
Here is a short list of some of the popular flowers for edible flower recipes that my friend has recommended using. There are many more options, and a supplier can supplement this list. Some are especially good in desserts, some in salads. You can taste them yourself and get a sense of what you would like to put them on.
Johnny jump ups
You can certainly buy edible flowers that are already prepared, including online (be sure the company is reputable). But here are a few things you can do yourself.
Floral Ice Cubes
Using petals and small buds in ice cubes is charming and easy to add to edible flower recipes. There are a few things to know when doing this.
Ice cubes can look murky. But if you boil water for a couple minutes and then fill the trays, the cubes will be clearer. Also, the flower will want to float to the top of the water in the ice cube tray.
So to fully cover the flowers, fill the water half way up, add the flowers, freeze, then cover the flowers with more water and freeze again. This will ensure they are completely within the ice cube. Unless, that is, you want the look of the flower peeking up out of the top of the ice.
It’s also fun to have colored ice by using either fruit juice, or adding a little food coloring. In this case, in order to see the flowers well, you’d want to make sure they are near the tops of the cubes or poking out.
Making Sugared Flowers and Petals
Sugaring petals (or whole small flowers and buds) makes a fun activity. They can be saved for later too. Use them on top of special cupcakes, ice cream desserts, or fancy fruit salads. No doubt you will come up with many ideas of your own.
What You Need
Your fresh, organic flowers or petals
Small dish of water
1 egg white at room temperature
Wash and pat dry your flowers. Beat the egg white until frothy, and then add about 3 drops of water to smoothen it. Pick up the flowers with a tweezer and dip in the egg white, spreading it around all over on both sides with a very slightly damp paint brush. You can add a couple more drops of water, if needed, to make it brush on well.
When coated, sprinkle with the fine sugar on both sides. You can also use colored sprinkle sugar (as used in cookie decorating), but it is coarser.
After they are sugared, place the flowers on your wax paper, and let them dry out until slightly brittle. (This can take 2 to 3 days). If you are going to keep them for future use, put them in a plastic container covered tightly with a lid, and separate the layers with wax paper. I have also kept them in the freezer.
Floral Fruit Salad
Here are a couple fun edible flower recipes, using a fruit salad with a color scheme! You may be familiar with Ambrosia – a tossed fruit salad using a large variety of fruit of your choice. (See our ambrosia fruit salad recipe page with ideas for toppings and dessert as well).
Red Floral Fruit Salad
Lightly toss together any of the following, plus any other pink or red fruits you may fancy. The amounts are flexible, according to what you like. Being red, these are also perfect for Valentine’s Day.
- ½ to 1 of cup cubed watermelon
½ cup pitted cherries
1 cup diced strawberries
½ cup raspberries
1 cup cubed red apples
½ cup cubed red plums
1 cup red grapes
½ cup pink grapefruit
½ cup pomegranate seeds
After you have lightly mixed together the previous fruit, carefully add in your red edible flower petals, such as rose or carnation. Making sugared petals, as described above, are delicious for this. You can also gently mix in some whipped cream tinted with a drop or two of red food coloring to make it pink.
Yellow Floral Fruit Salad
Follow the general instructions above, but use yellow fruit such as:
- ½ to 1 cup peaches or nectarines
½ to 1 cup papaya chunks
1 cup chopped yellow apples
½ to 1 cup sliced banana
½ to 1 cup pineapple chunks
½ to 1 cup fresh apricot chunks
1 cup cantaloupe chunks
You can garnish with lemon rind (candied is delicious), as well as yellow flower petals of your choice.
White Floral Fruit Salad
Here are some options for a lovely white fruit salad, perfect for anniversaries, showers, or parties of any kind. Using elegant dishes will really dress it up. Perhaps a little mimosa (orange juice and champagne) as well?
- ½ to 1 cup of peeled apples ½ to 1 cup of sliced bananas½ to 1 cup pear chunks½ to 1 cup white peaches or nectarines½ cup shredded coconut
Many of the edible flower recipes are delicious with whipped cream but this one is especially so. It will look lovely with a crystallized, sugared flower on top, particularly if you are making individual servings.
Floral Fruit Dessert
Edible flowers can be used on cupcakes and cakes of all kinds.
Or if you are looking for edible flower recipes to use for dessert, you can use the floral fruit salad idea as described above. First place a scoop of strawberry ice cream in a bowl (I put the ice cream on the bottom so it doesn’t squash any fruit or the flower petals). On top of the ice cream add about a cup of your fruit mix. Finally, garnish with more rose and/or carnation petals. You might like to add a contrasting colored flower to be an accent color.
I have also dipped a carnation (use mini sizes if you want them in individual servings) in water, sprinkled lightly with sugar (or Splenda), then placed it in a small dish to freeze. This make a lovely topping for any dessert or salad. And it’s edible.
Besides floating lovely ice cubes with petals of mini flowers in your favorite beverage, try making a few of these beverages; or use any of your own favorites as edible flower recipes.
Use a 50/50 combo for these delicious drinks.
If you are serving a larger group, use one bottle of champagne (non-alcoholic grape beverages are a nice option also), and 1 carton of orange juice. Mix together well. Add in your flowers and ice cubes, if using. For individual glasses, proportions would be approximately half orange juice and half champagne, per glass.
You can use any basic punch recipe that you have, then add your floral ice cubes and float some petals as well. When you bring it out to serve, you can also float several scoops of sherbert; and top of each place an edible flower (I have used my frozen crystallized carnations as described above). Eventually the sherbert melts into the punch, leaving the flowers to glide on the top of your punch bowl. And any punch can be color-specific with your theme – just change out the punch, fruit and flower colors.
Basic Punch Recipe:
1 (64 oz.) container of fruit punch (or flavor of your choice)
1 (2 liter) bottle of gingerale (sparkling wine is a great substitute)
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup raspberries
I cup sliced bananas
1 orange, sliced
I gallon of sherbert, your choice of flavors
2 trays of ice cubes (with edible flowers or petals)
First put the liquids into your punch bowl and stir. Gently add in the fruit. Float as many scoops of sherbert as you’d like on the top. And of course, don’t forget your flowers and floral ice cubes.
Easy Sangria Recipe
Our easy sangria recipe is sure to add sparkle to your festivities. Choose a recipe for either red or white wine. They’re different! Or sparkling grape juice is delicious too. Just add a few flower petals of your choice, and float your floral ice cubes.
Here is a summary of some of the interesting senior activity ideas that come from working with edible flowers and edible flower recipes:
- Learning (including research) about edible flowers
- Flower identification
- Having a flower presentation by an expert or someone in your group
- Growing your own gardens, including indoors in the winter
- Gathering flowers, either your own or in the wild
- Using the edible flowers in recipes, etc.
- Having special parties and teas with edible flowers in the desserts, salads and beverages
- Making sugared flowers, including to give as gifts
- Having an edible flower tasting party – flavors do vary
Edible flower research can make a really fun activity. You will find that various kinds have various tastes – some citrusy, some spicy, some sweet. Using them in various foods is a great experiment. Have an expert from a nursery or organic garden give a talk to your group.
Better yet, if you have someone in your group with experience in edible flowers – you have it made! So try out some of these edible flower recipes and activities for yourself. It’s something a little bit different to do any time of year, whether outdoors or in.
Get more edible flower recipes:
Delicious Healthy Dessert Recipes — Our healthy dessert recipes are delicious and fresh. Lots of ways to modify and use them too, including for low salt or sugar ideas. Think how you can use them as edible flower recipes.
Valentine’s Day Desserts — These Valentine’s Day Desserts are simple but unique. And healthy! Of course there are ways to dress them up or make them decadent too! Including using them for edible flower recipes.