Learn 3 ways to use orchids in your kitchen while you’re cooking your favorite meals.
If you love orchids as much as we do, you may find yourself gazing at your orchid’s intricate blooms with one question in mind: Are orchids edible?
The short answer is yes, orchid blooms are edible. Across cultures, orchids hold a unique place in traditional cuisines, including African, Asian, Australian, and South American dishes. Even ancient Grecian cultures believed that parts of the orchid plant had aphrodisiac qualities, so families hoping for a child would often include orchids in their meals.
Whether you’d like to share in cultural traditions or simply be adventurous in the kitchen, you’re in luck. Below, we cover some common questions about edible orchids and explore three popular ways orchids are used in cooking so you can add them to your favorite dishes or try something new.
Which orchids are edible?
All orchid flowers and leaves are edible. Full blooms, stems, petals, and buds can be used in dishes. Pseudobulbs and tubers are also edible, though they don’t make their way into many cooking traditions.
If you’re looking for tried-and-true orchid species to cook with, dendrobiums and epidendrums are popular choices.
Are orchids poisonous?
Orchid flowers and plant parts are not poisonous to humans. What is unsafe to eat, though, is the fertilizer or potting mix your orchid is planted in. Be careful to choose parts of the plant that do not come into contact with the growing medium, such as its roots.
Can I store edible orchids in my refrigerator?
Yes, you can! In refrigerated conditions, orchids hold up quite well. They can maintain their shape and color for up to 10 days, and cool temperatures between 36 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit keep the plants fresh and crisp.
Do orchids have medicinal properties?
Though there is no scientific evidence to prove that orchids have medicinal properties, the plants have been used to treat ailments as far back as the Confucius era (around 400 B.C.). Typically, they were used to alleviate stomachaches, headaches, fevers, and infections.
Three Ways to Use Orchids in Your Cooking
All right, let’s get down to the fun part! Here are three ways you can get started using orchids in your cooking.
1. Use orchid blooms as edible garnishes.
One of the most popular ways to invite orchids into your cooking processes is to use the flowers as eye-catching garnishes. Finishing your dish with a big orchid bloom is an easy way to brighten the plate and add a striking splash of color to your table.
Orchids also add a festive flair to drinks. Try dusting your garnish with sugar to give it extra sparkle and to tempt your guests to take a bite.
2. Use orchids to boost flavor profiles.
Orchids can be added to nearly any dish to boost its flavor profile. Orchid blooms are known for their light vegetable taste, and they’re often compared to watercress or endive.
You can sprinkle orchid petals on top of your dish when it’s finished or add them while you’re cooking. Orchid petals are also sold as dried powders, so you can easily add them to your recipes as you would other spices and herbs.
3. Use orchid vanilla in your desserts.
The most popular way to cook with orchids is by using vanilla extract or vanilla bean pods. Vanilla is used in many desserts. It makes an appearance in cakes, cupcakes, frostings, pound cakes, dessert loaves, and other baked goods.
Vanilla orchids are native to Central and South America, though they’re also found abundantly in Madagascar. Vanilla pods sprout along the vanilla orchid’s vines, some of which grow up to 30 feet long.
For more information on vanilla orchids and the process of making vanilla, click here.
Edible Orchid Dish Ideas
If you’re looking for a few dish ideas to get started, here are some quick and easy ways to use orchids in your cooking tonight.
Orchids in salads
A common way to use orchids in your kitchen is to use them in a fresh salad. You can add a big flower as a garnish on top of the greens or tear up the petals and toss them into the salad raw. You can also add orchid powder to your homemade salad dressings.
Orchids in drinks
Orchid flowers are commonly used in cocktails since they pair well with fancy glasses. For a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink option, serve an orchid flower in a glass of ice water with fresh slices of fruit and a touch of lemon zest.
Another way to use orchids in beverages is to make a Wild Orchid, a drink traditionally made in Turkey. This drink is made with hot milk, nutmeg, and dried orchid tuber powder.
Orchids in main dishes
Orchids complement other vegetables and are perfect for flavoring meat. Add them to your rice dishes, stir-fries, and barbeque meals. You might also be moved to make orchid tempura, a dish served in Thailand. Simply dip your orchid flowers in flour and egg batter and deep-fry them.
Orchids in desserts
For a special addition to your festive desserts, consider sugar-crystallized orchids. Try adding them to a wedding cake, birthday dessert, or a rich chocolate dish served with vanilla ice cream.
Join Our Orchid Lovers Facebook Community
It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with all things orchid—caring for orchids, growing orchids, populating orchids, and learning about orchid history.
And we can prove it. Check out our previous articles on the importance of orchids across cultures, how to create an orchid terrarium from scratch, and how to master orchid growing so you can watch your orchid bloom for years to come.
And, if you’re looking to join a community of orchid lovers like yourself, pop in to our Facebook community where you can ask questions, share photos, and tell stories of how you use orchids in your own cooking.