Springtime is plush with flowers, and guess what? You can eat them! We did some homework here at 24th Street Elementary and found which flowers were the best for eating then sprinkled them throughout the garden.
Violas and nasturtiums are gorgeous additions to any school garden and you can’t go wrong because like I said, they’re edible! We are also keen on broccoli, arugula, fennel, celery and radish flowers, and we can’t forget the blossoms: chive and onion. They’re ever so good!
Popping in a few violas at the ends of your garden beds will not only attract pollinators to visit that space, it’ll bring color into the garden and leave you with something delicious to add to your salads (or cakes.) Last week for art club we took our edible flowers to the next level by crystalizing them. Who thought painting flowers with egg whites and dusting them with sugar would be so delightful? I know our students thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Initially they were shocked by the idea that we could eat these flowers but after bravely tasting them, they gave in and accepted these flowers as tasty treats. We went around and harvested violas from the bed borders and then moseyed our way back to the row of rose bushes and collected pink and red petals. This is the perfect way to extend the life of these delightful flowers as they can last up to a year after being crystalized! We’re making ice cream for our after-school clubs farewell party and I think these crystalized flowers will be the perfect topping.
Here’s a quick how-to on crystallizing flowers:
Edible flowers (violas, roses, geraniums)
Whisk 3 egg whites with a splash of water until baby bubbles pop up. Dip paintbrush into mixture, paint petals. Sprinkle with sugar Lay out to dry. So simple, right?!
Adding nasturtiums to the perimeter of your garden will make it burst with color. Nasturiums come in a variety of colors but we have found that the orange whirly birds do the best in our soil and climate. They are beyond prolific! Go ahead and challenge your students to taste them – if they are fans of hot Cheetos, like our students are, they may leave their red fingertips behind for some spicy nasturtium leaves. Don’t forget to harvest your nasturtium seeds! They’re fabulously nutty with a nice, spicy kick. You want to harvest them when they’re still green and tender. You’ll find them as the flowers start to fade. The seeds are usually in sets of three. Go ahead and harvest as many as you can and then pickle them! They’ll be perfect on salads or with vegetables, why not try them with your favorite fish?
As we transition into summer, many of our spring crops are starting to go to flower. If you’re not quite ready to do your summer plantings, leave those spring crops in and start harvesting their flowers. Broccoli and radish flowers are incredibly delicious. They are beyond lovely when added to salads and soups. We made our famous zucchinicini at school the other week and decided to harvest loads of broccoli and radish flowers to add another flavor profile to the dish. The students had a blast adding flowers to their dish and said it was the prettiest thing they’d ever eaten.