There are many different Costus available, many with spectacular bracts, and as far as I know, the flowers of all are edible. Certainly the varieties I have growing are a useful addition to salads, and I quite frequently browse on them while gardening.
Flowers differ in taste, usually with a sweet taste initially and then a sour after taste which is quite mild and not unpleasant. With the two varieties shown here, the pink flower is slightly milder than the pink one. I have one variety not flowering at the moment, with a very pronounced strawberry flavour!
The edible flowers
I like to use the flowers as a garnish on salads where they not only add to the flavour, but make the salad bright and colourful.
I was wandering through my garden today and noticed one of my pink torch ginger plants (Etlingera elatior) had a couple of flowers on.
The spectacular pink torch ginger flower.
I have heard these are eaten in some parts of S.E. Asia, and a quick google search confirmed that and also that they are eaten at the bud stage, before they open into the fantastic flower shown above. One of my flowers was at that stage so I cut it to try.
As you can see, the bud was quite spectacular cut open, the colour would make it a lovely addition to a meal. Apparently it is commonly eaten with fish dishes, added at the end of cooking. I intend having some on a salad tonight. And the taste…well, I’m having trouble describing it, it is totally unique, with a slight bitterness, a little lemon flavour and maybe just a hint of something hot, more like pepper than ginger. Thinly sliced, I think it will make a lovely garnish on many dishes, both visually and tastewise. I will eagerly await more flowers.