Edible flowers were a big hit in the culinary ‘80s, and why not? Now they’re back (and why not?) They make the most gorgeous garnish ever and the subtle fragrance and taste of edible flowers add easy elegance to salads, soups and even main dishes. Crystallized petals or flowers add surprise to sweets and drinks.

At Cucina, Chef Joey Ferran makes a pesto with dandelions. The Rose Establishment honors its name with rose petals in pastries. At Hell’s Backbone Grill, you’ll find flowers sprinkled exuberantly on everything and the Jamaica (hibiscus) margarita at the late Alamexo was a best-seller. So get with it and go grocery shopping in your garden.

THE RULES

Wester Garden Center offers guidelines:

  • Only consume organically- grown flowers.
  • If you’re not sure something is edible, look it up before eating.
  • Use flowers in moderation— don’t serve a whole bowl of blossoms. Duh.
  • Only use the petals—not the pistils, stamens or stems.
  • Here are some wild and garden flowers you can harvest for the dinner table: Dandelion, Indian Paintbrush, Rose Petals (Great in spinach salads), Nasturtiums, Hibiscus, (Find dried hibiscus, or Jamaica, in Hispanic or Latino grocery stores), Violets and Pansies, Herb Flowers (basil, lavender, wild mustard.)

Western Gardens, 1550 S. 600 East, SLC, 801-364-7871; 4050 W. 4100 South, 801-968-

How to crystallize flowers: 

Wash flowers or petals and let them dry thoroughly on a paper towel. Beat one egg white with 1⁄4 teaspoon water. Pulverize granulated sugar in a blender or use super fine sugar. Place a rack over another paper towel and using a small new, clean paintbrush, carefully paint each flower or petal completely with egg white. Be sure there are no bare spots. Sprinkle the flower or petal with sugar to totally cover and place on rack until dry.