When I shared my cakes last spring with the edible flowers on them I got so many comments about “was I really going to eat those cakes with the flowers on them?!” And the answer is, “yes, of course!” I did my research to make sure every flower I used was edible and I put a lot of work into picking, cleaning, and using them to decorate my cakes so I definitely wasn’t going to throw that hard work away! From personal experience I’d add that flowers used as decoration don’t affect the flavor of cakes very much; they’re more there for decoration and texture. When you really want to get the flavor of a flower you usually want to distill it down to a syrup and then use that syrup when mixing drinks, flavoring cakes, icings, etc. Still it can be quite intimidating to start foraging and I often find that guides to certain plants don’t really tell us what they taste like—for example what is good in a salad and what’s better with sweets? So here’s a very small guide to a few easily identifiable spring flowers and what they taste like raw. Some flowers like lilac as well is something you almost smell more than you taste. I found all of these flowers on one walk and they should be in season for most of May.
Violets: sweet, perfumed flavor, like a burst of floral on your tongue.
Dandelions: sweetest when young they have a mild honey flavor, but the green parts are often bitter so try to harvest only the yellow petals.
Daisy: relatively tasteless, but still pretty on cakes or in salads.
Cuckoo flowers: similar flavor to watercress, peppery with a bit of a hot kick.
Lilac: floral and perfume-y with hints of citrus; very pretty smelling.
Forget-me-nots: very mild floral taste, some describe them as slightly nutty.
Primrose: mild and sweet flowers; the leaves are also edible and are a bit spicy and anise flavored.
Red clover: Sweet flavor with a hint of bean flavor when eaten raw.