It is best to use only flowers that are grown organically without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. For that reason, most of the flowers from the florist are not suitable for food. Consider growing your own, as many of the edible flowers are easy to grow. When planting an edible flower garden, plan to grow a variety of colors so you can mix and match the flowers to your culinary delights.
When you harvest your flowers, keep in mind that they will bruise, so it is best to handle them gently. Gather flowers in a colander, and then rinse them very lightly. They will store nicely for a week in the refrigerator on a moistened paper towel inside a plastic clamshell container.
Garnishing is a common way to utilize edible flowers, but they are so versatile in their uses that you are really only limited by your imagination. Adding edible flowers to an ordinary mixed salad will make it extraordinary. Pulling out the center of a tulip and then using that tulip flower as a bowl gives your favorite chicken salad or egg salad recipe a wow factor. Stuffing nasturtium blossoms or petunias with a cheese spread eliminates the need for crackers and creates a unique gluten-free option for a tea party. Hollyhocks make a perfect bowl for caviar or for a small ball of butter spread.