In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, and people everywhere take the time to stop and eat the edible flowers. Edible flowers can be used to decorate pastries, flavor drinks, and make tea or ice cream. Working with flowers is one of my favorite ways to add an exotic twist to meals, desserts, and drinks.
Hibiscus - Chill Like an Egyptian
In Egypt, the Pharaohs would keep their cool by drinking tea made from hibiscus. Hibiscus tea is a natural refrigerant and helps cool the body, so it is not only good in the heat of the summer but can also be used to help reduce fevers. This tart, crimson treat will become one of your favorite summertime coolers and it looks amazing in a tall frosty glass.
Hibiscus drink is called Karkadeeh in Egypt and is often used in ceremonies. For example, weddings in Sudan and Egypt are usually toasted with glasses of hibiscus tea.
Hibiscus is also known as Jamaica flower (pronounced ha-mike-uh) and can be found in local herb shops, health food stores, and online. To make two quarts of hibiscus tea, you need:
- 4 ounces dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- 2 cups sugar
- In a large saucepan, combine the hibiscus flowers and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Strain to remove the hibiscus leaves.
- Then stir in the sugar until it dissolves.
- Refrigerate until cold.
- Serve the tea over ice and garnish with orange slices.
- You can also add whole cloves to the tea for a different flavor.
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd, And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night, I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. --Walt Whitman
I like to use candied lilacs as decorations on cupcakes. To candy lilacs, you will first need to break the individual flowers from the stems. You will also need:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup superfine sugar
You will also need some tweezers.
- Put the granulated sugar and water into a saucepan and boil until the syrup gets to thread stage. To check for thread stage, put a drop of the boiling syrup into cold water. The syrup should form a 2 inch long thread. If you have a candy thermometer, the thread stage is between 230 and 234 degree Fahrenheit.
- Using the tweezers, dip the flowers into the syrup. Gently shake the excess syrup off the flower and then dip them into the superfine sugar. Let the flowers dry on a sheet of parchment paper. Store in an airtight jar.
This method works for all edible flowers. You can also use the following method for rose petals and other flowers. You will need:
- Egg whites
- Superfine sugar
You will also need a small, soft bristle brush, such as camel hair.
Beat the egg whites until frothy. Brush both sides of the petal with the egg white. Dip into the superfine sugar and let it dry on a sheet of parchment paper.
For a more colorful effect, you may want to color the sugar before you use it to coat the flowers.
Lavender is another edible flower that adds a great flavor to ice cream and chocolates. If you are making truffles, you can flavor them by adding the lavender to the cream as it scalds. Strain the flowers out of the cream before adding the cream to the chocolate.
In order to make lavender ice cream, you will need:
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1 1/2 cups of cream
- Half of a vanilla bean split lengthwise
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of lavender flowers chopped
- Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add the seeds and pod to a saucepan with the milk, cream, and lavender flowers. Bring to a scald.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
- Using a Bain Marie, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.
- Very slowly, add the milk to the eggs.
- Cook the mixture until it begins to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Strain the liquid.
- Chill the mixture for one hour.
- Add the mixture to your ice cream maker.
While flowers are a fun and tasty way to add color to your food, there is some basic advice that you should keep in mind when cooking with flowers:
- Only eat flowers that have been grown organically.
- Make sure the flowers are clean.
- Do not eat flowers that come from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. They use chemical fertilizers which are not good to eat.
- Only eat the petals; do not eat the pistils and stamens.
A list of other flowers that are generally considered edible includes:
- Chamomile (often used as tea)
- Nasturtiums (peppery flavor, good in salads)
- Radish blossoms
- Squash Blossoms
Related Cooking Recipes
- Sauce For Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
- Italian Cream Recipe 1
- Ice Cream Candy Recipe
- Rose Cream Mints Recipe
- Everybody Loves Cupcakes