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Food & Recipes

Edible Roses Boast Sweet Health Benefits — But Only If They’re Safe to Eat


Edible roses might seem like a strange idea to you at first, but you might be missing out if you’ve never tried these flavorful superfoods before. When you hear about all the benefits of these fantastic flowers, you’ll want to stop and eat the roses — not just smell them.

Edible Roses vs. Non-Edible Roses

One of the most crucial things to know is that not all roses are edible roses. For your health and safety, it’s important not to eat any flower that has been sprayed with pesticides or any other harmful chemicals, according to Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. In other words, avoid eating any flowers that you bought at nurseries, florists, or garden centers — save those for decoration in your favorite vase! It’s also worth keeping in mind that some people out there might have an allergic reaction to eating flowers. Folks with pollen allergies should exercise particular caution when trying edible roses — or any other edible flower for that matter. 

So what are edible flowers, exactly? According to the National Gardening Association, any flower that isn’t poisonous or that doesn’t cause a negative reaction can be considered edible. Always be sure to correctly identify a flower before you eat it — and consult an expert like horticulturist or a botanist if you aren’t sure. When selecting your edible flowers of choice at the grocery store or farmer’s market, your best bet is to pick ones that have been grown organically and that are at their peak freshness. Keep in mind that edible flowers can be grown in a wide array of locations and in different soil types, so they can vary widely in taste. Sample a few before you decide to cook with one. Tip: It’s probably not a good idea to eat any edible flower that doesn’t smell good to you. Chances are, it won’t taste very good to you either!

Popular Edible Roses and Their Benefits

One beloved edible rose is the rugosa rose, which is native to China and boasts an impressive variety of colors, ranging from white to purple. The fruits of this plant — also known as the “rose hips” — are chock-full of vitamin C. These fruits can be incorporated in recipes for teas, jams, and jellies. (Sounds like they’d be the perfect addition to an afternoon tea party!)

Another popular edible rose is the Damask rose. Research shows that this flower boasts antibacterial, antioxidant, and relaxant effects on the throat. Cultivated in Iran, this plant is often used to create rose water, which is a simple liquid made from water and rose petals. Aside from having medicinal and culinary values, rose water also smells lovely and sweet.

Yet another fan-favorite edible rose is the tea rose. As part of a larger study on edible flowers in general, the tea rose was one of the plants that helped convince researchers of the nutritional value of eating flowers. Along with other edible flowers studied, the tea rose boasts antioxidants, a high nutritional value, and an attractive appearance (although honestly, we could’ve told you the last one).

How to Find and Prepare Edible Roses

One great place to buy edible flowers is at farmer’s markets, which give you the chance to peruse a wide range of options as well as the opportunity to ask vendors any specific questions you have, such as how to use them in your cooking. Some grocery stores also sell edible flowers in the produce section. Look for small plastic containers with flowers inside them; they might be near the fresh herbs. If no place near you sells edible flowers but you’re really curious to try them, you might consider buying them online; websites such as Gourmet Sweet Botanicals sell a wide variety, including some super bright and pretty roses that you just might dream about adding to your dinner tonight.

In terms of preparing edible roses for food and drinks, many folks opt to use edible roses in teas, rose water, and spreads. But edible flowers can also be used to bring added flavor to dishes like soups, salads, and casseroles. They also make a pretty darn cute garnish for any dish you want to make a little fancier. If you’ve already decorated your food with edible roses and infused them in plenty of tea, you might consider more complex and flavorful recipes from a cookbook like Cooking with Flowers: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender, and Other Edible Flowers (from $5.69, Amazon).

Sounds like a rose by any other name would not only smell, but also taste, just as sweet!

Next, learn about some tasty superfoods that can help you live longer in the video below:

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