Friday, June 22, 2012

Edible Flowers and Recipes

The day we talked about practical uses of flowers was my favorite day (and maybe everyone's!).  We had a book of recipes using edible flowers, and we looked up some online too. We gathered everything from our own yard, except for the pansies and violas which came from a kind neighbor (thank you Laura!).
They were so pretty I just wanted to take pictures of them.

We've made sugared violets before, but the recipe book opened our eyes to all the other options we had. Rose petals were the easiest and most fun to do because they aren't quite so delicate and fiddly. The violas look gorgeous, but it was harder for the boys to keep the petals from creasing while they painted the egg white on. The mint leaves were fun to do too. Everything smelled heavenly! We made crystallized violas, pansies, rose petals, lavender, and two kinds of mint.

We also made lavender sugar---or a different method of crystallized lavender where you just blanch the blossoms in boiling water for 30 seconds and then toss them with sugar. It was easier than the egg-white painting, but less elegant, I thought. I'm still looking for the perfect thing to use this lavender sugar on/in. Possibly this?

The jelly and syrups we made were awesome. I was quite surprised how well the rose-petal jelly turned out, as it felt too simple. You just blend up rose petals and lemon juice and water in the blender, then blend in some sugar. Add pectin and boiling water, and let it set overnight. It is DELICIOUS. We had it on buttermilk biscuits for dinner and it was amazing. Such a rosy, delicate taste. Yum! It's a lovely color, too. The jelly recipe we used is here.

We also made rose and lavender syrup, using the easiest method possible: you make a simple syrup (sugar+water), add rose petals or lavendar, and simmer on the stove for an hour. (Recipe here; we didn't add any food coloring.) Then you strain out the flowers and you have flavored syrup! We ate it on pancakes the next morning and it was awesome, but my favorite thing we did with it was make Italian cream sodas. You put ice in a glass, cover it with seltzer/club soda, add a healthy amount of the syrup (aren't the colors gorgeous?!), and then top with a splash of cream. They were SO good. I can't decide which I liked better---maybe the lavender, but only barely. They both had that subtle, exotic flavor that flowers add to things. It tasted vaguely Indian to me (I think I've had Indian dishes made with rosewater before).

We also used daylily petals and whole pansies in our salad at dinner time (it's this salad, but we added the flowers). Flowers are good in most salads, really. The pansies taste kind of fresh and grassy (kind of like lettuce) and the daylily petals are just . . . good. The daylily buds taste like peas. Yum.

Lastly our lovely cake. We made orange juice cake because we thought the citrus flavor would contrast nicely with the soft floral flavors on top. For this cake, you make an orange syrup which you pour over the cake when hot. I was very tempted to use one of the flower syrups instead (the rose or the lavender) but finally decided it might make the cake too sweet. I still half-wish I'd tried it though---it may have been good. Anyway, we liked it the regular way. Everyone wanted more of the crystallized flowers. They really are so crunchy and sweet and good! We put some on Sam's Father's Day Cheesecake too. They keep for up to a year (I read) and we still have a few more I'm saving for some special occasion. :)

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