Those of us without vegetable plots or a kitchen garden are often led to thinking that our garden is merely a place for plants that are pleasing to the eye. But did you know that you can cook and eat many plants and flowers that aren’t classed as fruit and veg?
From tree shoots to petals to roots, there are many delectable delicacies that you can whip up from your shrubs and flowers - even indoor plants can be eaten, so not having a garden is no excuse!
Here are seven things from your garden you never knew you could eat...
- Rose Petals - Although Village Fete winning cakes are often adorned with sugar-covered petals, many don’t realise that these are edible. Rose petals offer a delicate flavour to sweets, cakes and puddings, though my favourite use is rose petal cordial - a sweet drink with a subtle floral taste.
- Spruce Shoots - Spruce is traditionally used in cough syrups due to its high vitamin C content and decongesting qualities, but the flavour is not only for medicine. Try mixing in a sprinkling of chopped spruce tips into your favourite shortbread recipe, or add it to an apple jam recipe for a unique touch.
- Dandelions - Traditionally added to salad, we seem to have forgotten that these pesky weeds are also a delicious food! If you want something a little more exciting than salad, try dipping the flowers in flour and a blend of your favourite spices, and deep fry for a spicy snack.
- Nettles - Another traditional food that’s been forgotten in the midst of time, these weeds that are the bane of many a gardener’s life can also be eaten raw (but only by the brave) or made into a yummy and nutritious soup. It’s the stems you want though, not the stinging leaves!
- Acorns - Acorns have been used as a food source since ancient times, though they are rarely seen as anything other than squirrel food nowadays. Once picked, roasted and soaked to remove the bitter tannins, acorns can be eaten just like any other nuts or ground up to use as a flour or coffee-style powder.
- Hawthorne - You can eat the leaves, berries and seeds from Hawthorne bushes, which has been done for centuries due to the health benefits they provide! The leaves are great in a salad or as a sandwich filling, and the berries make really yummy jam.
- Jasmine Flowers - Jasmine flowers have a lovely sweet taste that makes for a great tea, or use it to flavour rice as an accompaniment to Thai and Indian dishes.
Have you ever eaten any other unusual foods from your garden?
Estelle Page is a keen gardener and blogger who loves to whip up tantalising dishes from her garden! If you don’t have time to care for your plants, she recommends Ambius UK.