Garden Fresh Grilling
Garden Fresh Grilling:
Herbs and Edible Flowers You Can Grow and Grill at Home
We’ve all heard how important presentation is when it comes to food. The art of plating has taken on a life of its own, but c’mon… not everyone wants to swirl six sauces around in geometric patterns for a braai.
In our opinion, the food itself should always steal the show. So how do you get the best of both worlds? How do you make taste the hero while incorporating a little aesthetic beauty into your grill menu? The answer might already be growing in your garden.
With a little care and love, it’s easy to grow herbs and edible flowers that make your summer braai sesh more flavourful, and more beautiful. If you have a garden of your own, these herbs and edible flowers are easy to bring into the mix. If you don’t have room for a garden, maybe it’s time to bring in a few potted herbs and plants that you can harvest when it’s time to braai.
The following is a list of herbs and edible flowers you can grow and braai at home, but please remember: Like berries, not all flowers are edible. Stay out of your neighbour's garden and don’t forage for wildflowers unless you know what you’re doing. Never spray your flowers or herbs with pesticides, either.
3 Garden-friendly Herbs You Can Grow & Grill
Plant lavender for fragrant flavouring
- Flavour Profile: Perfumed and earthy, it’s said this herb tastes how it smells. Use it as a romantic departure from rosemary, or for any dish you want a uniquely herbal, but not at all bitter taste.
- Pairs Well With: Any food you could use rosemary for, you can sub in lavender for. Just use a lighter hand. Lavender braaied potatoes are a great place to start.
- When to Plant: There are many varieties of lavender, but Munstead is particularly hardy. Plant your lavender in the springtime, as the soil temperature begins to rise. If you're planting more than one plant, keep each one 30 to 45 cm apart because lavender needs good air circulation. Though tough, dampness can damage lavender so be sure to plant it where it will receive full sunlight, and don’t overwater.
- When to Harvest: Once your lavender has grown to a foot high, which can take a while from seed, but is quick to happen with starts bought from a nursery, it will be ready for harvest.
- Try this Recipe: Food with a story just tastes better, and 2 Stews trip to France for paired with this lavender honey recipe is sweet reading: Lavender Honey Grilled Chicken
Plant rosemary for a woodsy, savoury herb
- Flavour Profile: You’ve most likely tasted this savoury herb before. Its aroma is woodsy and robust, and some may even call it tea-like.
- Pairs Well With: There are so many ways to fit rosemary into your life. It goes great with most meats and veggies. Sprinkled liberally over braaied potatoes is a quick and easy way to enjoy it, but don’t be scared to experiment further with this much-loved herb.
- When to Plant: Plant in the spring, and keep it in pots rather than in the ground if you live somewhere with harsh winters, as you’ll want to bring the rosemary inside. This plant loves the full sun, but not too much water.
- When to Harvest: When the sprigs get long, you’re ready to cut them off and braai them up.
- Try this Recipe: Bring sea and earth together with this rosemary salmon recipe: Balsamic and Rosemary Grilled Salmon
Freshen things up with mint
- Flavour Profile: Thanks to the menthol in mint, it’s known to taste “cold”, but anyone who’s brushed their teeth could have told you that. What you may not have known is that mint makes for a refreshing flavour in your braai dishes.
- Pairs Well With: Adding mint is tougher than adding other herbs, as complementary flavours may not be immediately obvious, but done right, it’s an exciting twist on just about any dinner table. Try adding mint to your lamb dishes!
- When to Plant: Plant your mint in spring, once the last frost has passed. Partial shade is great for these plants, but be careful not to allow this quick-spreader to take over your garden.
- When to Harvest: It can take mint about 90 days to be ready for harvest, but it will be quicker if you aren’t growing from seed.
- Try this Recipe: Mint and lemon compliment each other beautifully in this swordfish dish: Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Mint and Basil
2 Edible Flowers You Can Grow & Braai
Plant nasturtiums for fiery colour
- Flavour Profile: Peppery and lively! Beautiful streaks of sunset orange and red will kick up any dish, and sell that spicy flavour profile.
- Pairs Well With: Goes great with any food that could use a little punch, like Mexican cuisine, potatoes, and any beef or pork dish! Also fantastic with braaied veggies.
- When to Plant: Plant in early spring, give them lots of sun, and keep their soil moist.
- When to Harvest: In around 35-52 days, your Nasturtiums should flower, and then you’ll be ready to harvest.
- Try it With: Throw a couple of these petals in with your grilled Mahi Mahi tacos!
For flavour out of the blue, grow borage flower
- Flavour Profile: Vegetable-like, this flower tastes surprisingly like a cucumber! Aside from blueberries, you’d be hard-pressed to find something edible in this shade. Because of this, it instantly makes any dish memorable.
- Pairs Well With: Since its flavour is mild, you can get a lot of mileage out of these blue beauties, especially by adding them to veggie plates and lighter meat dishes such as chicken and fish.
- When to Plant: Plant after the frost has stopped in your area, and give them full sun to partial shade. Don’t over-water, but don’t leave them thirsty, either.
- When to Harvest: - They bloom from late spring through summer, and should be harvested when you want to use the petals, as older blooms can get unattractive.
- Try it With: This grilled chicken salad recipe is far from average, thanks to stunning pops of blue: Blue on Blue Salad
You Don’t Need a Green Thumb to Braai, but it Doesn’t Hurt.
Herbs are sadly underused, and edible flowers are almost unknown, which is a shame. The next time you want to impress your guests, serve up some garden-to-table herbs and edible flowers. It’s a tasty and creative way to keep your ingredients local (extremely local) and add some aesthetic to your braai. Besides, fresh beats are store-bought every time. And remember, never eat flowers or herbs that have been sprayed with pesticides.
Don’t know where to get started? Check out the organic options in Home Depot’s garden section or your local nursery.
Now let’s get growing, Nexgrillers!
Let’s be friends!
If you don’t already, follow us on social media and fill us in on all your braai adventures using #EveryonesInvited. We promise to keep you up to date with all our latest braai tips, stories, recipes, and more—everything you need to stay satisfied between braai's.