Edible marigolds.

To: herbs.teleport.com
Subject: Re: edible marigolds; E.Czekalski question
From: E.Czekalski.m.bull.com
Date: Tue, 05 Mar 96 10:21:43 EST

Hello all,

I'd had some off-line conversations about whether all marigolds were edible so asked Shepherd Ogden of Cooks. He was kind enough to give this answer.


From: Gardens & Gardening <GARDENS.UKCC.uky.edu> at SMTPlink-USIS1

As far as I know ALL the marigolds are edible in the safety sense. The more relevant question is which ones are edible in the culinarysense, i.e., which taste good. Lemon Gem (tagetes signata/pumila/tenufolia) is widely considered the best tasting after trials in California (where else?) <G>. Only the petals (ray flowers) are used, not the center (disc flowers) unless used only as a garnish. I would expect some of the others to taste pretty vile....

I was at a trial in Holland last year where they had 850 different varieties growing, and heard no mention from any of the researchers about harmful effects on people though the whole focus was on harmful effects on nematodes. I'll try to upload a GIF to my web page of the trial fields, a very spectacular image, check for it in my GIF list at http://www.sover.net/~justso/.

BTW I just spent a couple of days adding some of the material I have mentioned earlier on the GARDENS list to the page, and it is vastly improved....check it out!

I consider the best sources of information on edible flowers generally to be Ros Creasy and Cathy Barash. Both have excellent books on the subject.


Shepherd Ogden
The Cook's Garden

From: jeason.midway.uchicago.edu (James Eason)

>As far as I know ALL the marigolds are edible in the safety sense.

And it is absolutely true (a friend who works in the field assures me) that marigolds (Tagetes) are fed to chickens to make their flesh yellow. They don't poison us, so I assume that marigolds are okay for us. My own pet chicken won't touch the things, but she has lived on a diet of flies, almonds, bananas, roses, and such like wonders all her life and has grown fussy.

From: Raymond Calkins <rcalkins.mailhost.nmt.edu>

I didn't see mention of tarragon, my favorite edible marigold.

From: Raymond Calkins <rcalkins.mailhost.nmt.edu>

> I thought Tarragon was part of the Artemesia Family. The Latin name is Artemesia Dracunculus. The root is long and dragon like, ergo the name.

Tarragon and sunflowers and marigolds are in the Compositae family. I was delightfully suprised to find that artemisia were also in there. So, we're both right. I was not too specific about which tarragon you meant. I can only easily grow Mexican tarragon here in NM, (Tagetes lucida), and I forgot about the A. dracunculus tarragon. Sorry to spread my confusion to the list! :-)

From: Laurie Otto <lotto.ptialaska.net>

Of the true marigolds (as opposed to pot marigolds or calendula), only the signet marigolds are worth eating. The other marigolds may be ok to eat in that they are not, if eaten in small quantities, bad for you. However, the just plain taste bad. I'd say that the Inca series are the best of the worst, but really - if you want to eat marigolds - go for either Lemon Gem or Tangerine Gem (both are signet marigolds and have small, single blossoms). The flavor of signet marigolds is spicy, and has tarragon overtones. Treat like calendula, and if you want to preserve for the winter, the petals can be dried. Try in egg dishes, like quiche, scrambled eggs, omelette, or deviled eggs. Also good in mayonnaise salads such as egg, potato, or chicken. Also good in breads and muffins.
Trust me - stay away from those other marigolds!

From: E.Czekalski.m.bull.com

I have to differ a little with Laurie, from a flavor perspective she is probably right but I like to throw them into rice pilafs for color and the signet colors are fairly limited. I've never used enough to be able to taste them in a well seasoned pilaf anyway.

If the dish is uncooked I'll probably use nasturniums anyway, but I save them for dishes where I want their mild peppery flavor and don't cook them at all.

Culinary herb FAQ: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/faqs/culi-2-38-mmm.html