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Using Edible Flowers

With their vibrant burst of color, aroma and flavor, flowers add a surprising touch to any meal. No nutritional information is available for most flowers, but some varieties contain beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant.

The aroma of edible flowers usually reflects their flavor, but not always: It's best to taste one flower from a bunch before buying. Use only organic flowers found in farmers markets and supermarkets, or those you have grown at home using solely organic methods. Never eat flowers sold by nurseries or florists; they are not grown for consumption. If you are pollen-sensitive, use only petals, not whole flowers.

Calendula Long recognized for their medicinal properties as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, calendula petals add bright color and a bitter accent. Can be used dried as well.

Chrysanthemums come in many colors, including yellow, orange, pink and white. Their flavor leans toward bitter and may have tangy notes, which makes them perfect for flavoring vinegar. Before tossing the petals in salads, remove the bitter base.

Dandelions (not pictured) The blight of lawns everywhere actually have a refreshingly sweet flavor when the blooms are new. If picking your own, choose flowers growing away from roads and not treated with pesticides.

Marigolds (not pictured) Signet or dwarf marigolds range in flavor from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery -- but they are always beautiful and aromatic.

Nasturtiums Among the most commonly consumed flowers, nasturtiums come in brilliant oranges, reds and yellows. Their blossoms and leaves tend to have a peppery flavor reminiscent of watercress.

Pansies Lending a mildly sweet and grassy essence to salads and soups, pansies are often used on cakes and pastries as well.

Roses Many roses have a sweet or fruity taste, but flavors from the countless varieties depend on color: The darker the petal, the deeper the flavor.

Violets Sweet and perfumed, the flavor of this flower often mimics the scent of its petals. Along with being a delightful salad flower, violets can be steeped in hot water to produce an invigorating tea.

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