Edible flowers are flowers that can be consumed safely. Flowers may be eaten as vegetables as a main part of a meal, or may be used as herbs. Flowers are part of many regional cuisines, including Asian, European, and Middle Eastern cuisines.
With their powerful and unique flavors, textures and colors, edible flowers have gained popularity as a creative and innovative ingredient for the culinary world; they are added to foods to provide flavor, aroma, and decoration. They can be eaten as part of a main dish or be incorporated into salads. Flowers can be added to beverages as flavorings, or be used to make beverages such as tisanes and wines. They are added to spreads such as butter or fruit preserves, and to vinegar, marinades, and dressings.
Flowers are also consumed for sustenance. Many flowers that are technically edible can be far from palatable. An example of a species with flowers that are of high nutritional value is the dandelion, whose flowers are shown to contain high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants and possess anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties.
For the best flavor, flowers should be fresh and harvested early in the day. Wilted and faded flowers and the unopened buds of most species can be unpleasant and often bitter. The taste and color of nectar widely vary between different species of flower; consequently, honey may vary in color and taste depending on the species of flower. Many flowers can be eaten whole, but some have bitter parts, such as the stamens and stems.