Cooking with flowers is an artistic and culinary delight. I have always been fascinated with the magic of flowers. Infatuated, infatuated, captivated by the allure of something so fleeting yet resonant, an organic concentration of beauty whose presence attracts magic that alone can only be created by nature. During college summers, I worked as a florist, collaborating with my favorite flowers and branches. But it wasn’t until a year ago that I changed gears and started cooking with flowers in earnest.
It starts with the lotus plants. I love topping my pizzas with their bright, spicy bite and seeing their bright, vibrant colors blend into salads. From there, my obsession grew, and soon I was dotting my strawberry shortcake with tiny chrysanthemum petals and adorning the avocado toast with violets. The world of flower cooking is huge — and that’s a fact Cassie Winslow knows well.
A baker, blogger and active custodian of her edible flower garden, Cassie is inspiring all of us to connect with the joys of flower cooking and bring this close-to-earth way of life back to life. be our focus. Now the author of two books, Flower Terms and Flower LibationsCassie’s art is something to behold and her recipes are a delight to behold.
I sat down with Cassie to chat about everything about cooking with flowers — from the best blooming ways to make them to tips and tricks for keeping your flowers fresh. If your cooking routine can be used in a new way, get ready for any inspiration you might need.
Can you share a little bit about the history of including flowers in our food?
Many cultures have used flowers in food for centuries. I have read that the use of edible blooms in cooking goes back to early history when the Romans used them in salads. To read more about the history of edible flowers, I just purchased Gerald’s Herbal by John Gerard, and I’m excited to do more research.
Get the recipe for Cassie Plum and Lavender Clafoutis
What flowers can be used in cooking and baking?
I love using edible organic dried flowers in recipes because they have a long shelf life, are easy to source, and have good baking and cooking abilities. There are many edible flowers and I’m always discovering new ones, but my favorites (and the easiest to source) are:
- Rose. They vary between sources and, of course, depend on diversity. In general, they tend to be aromatic and sweet, and some can even produce a pleasant bitter taste.
- Chrysanthemum. These little flowers have an earthy flavor and complexity that reminds me of honey.
- Lavender. Lavender is cute and quite fragrant, so a little bit has a long-lasting effect.
- Calendula. Calendula petals can have a rather subtle flavor with a hint of spice.
- Hibiscus. I only use hibiscus in its dried form. It has a beautiful color and is very tangy and sour.
All of these make up delicious salt and sugar as well as syrups!
Do you have a favorite flower to use in recipes?
I will have to choose chrysanthemums for many reasons. I find that to be the easiest source of dried organic flowers. You can find chamomile tea almost anywhere, and most of the time, the sachets contain only chamomile flowers. It’s great in both sweet and savory recipes and adds such a subtle floral flavor to all dishes.
I use it in chamomile salt, which can be sprinkled on homemade fries, chamomile simple syrup to use in cocktails or vanilla ice cream drips, and in whipped cream for strawberry shortcakes, a Summer favorite food.
Get the recipe for strawberry and rose geranium milkshakes
For someone who is cooking with flowers for the first time, where would you recommend starting?
I have many recipes in both of my books and have found that making a variety of dishes at home is the best way to incorporate edible flowers into everyday meals. For example, pink salt can be used to sprinkle on top of a hard-boiled egg or chocolate chip cookie, or to top your favorite margarita or even a glass of champagne. Lavender syrup can be used to sweeten your daily coffee, add to your favorite cocktail, or drip on top of pancakes.
How to keep flowers vibrant and fresh for a long time?
Use a linen napkin to gently wipe the flowers, not shake, to preserve color and shape. Store in the refrigerator and use as soon as possible, usually within a day or two depending on hatchability.