WHAT IS EDIBLE & CRYSTALLISED FLOWERS:
The history of edible flowers go back thousands of years. Ancient Greeks, Romans and cultures around the world used a variety of edible florals in their salads and added it as flavourful herbs. The Victorians were particularly fond of crystallised/candied flowers. These ‘sugar dusted’ flowers became popular during the Victorian Times because this was when granulated sugar became available.
You can use your organic (where possible), edible flowers fresh from the garden in a salad or garnish sweet treats. The process of crystallising (and preserving) edible flowers is simple. All you need is lightly whisked egg white and sifted castor sugar. Firstly, you cover the petals carefully with egg white, then secondly, lightly dust them all over with the caster sugar. The flowers then need to dry and harden. After they are dry, you can store them in an airtight container for up to three months.
Edible flowers to try include, Primroses, Pansies, Violas, Violets, Lavender, Cornflowers, Borage, Pelargonium, Rose petals, Mint leaves, Sweet Cecily leaves.
TO GROW IN YOUR GARDEN:
Edible flowers are excellent and organic, homegrown garnish to add to your recipes. The blooms look elegant and light in any garden, be it a simple potted herb garden, a beautiful potager garden, a larger vegetable garden, or planted in any well-draining container of your choice. Edible flowers can be grown everywhere from pots on an urban balcony garden to an indoor kitchen window. They also do wonderfully outdoors in a garden, on a cobbled patio, or cottage courtyard. The list of places that you can grow edible flowers is quite extensive.
For the most delicate flavour, it is best to harvest all edible flowers in the morning after the dew has lifted. Pick only the most beautiful and pristine flowers.
A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Wilted, faded, and even unopened buds can be distasteful and bitter. When you use the entire bloom, it is best to remove the stamens and stems, as these can be a bit bitter. Also, remove the white parts of the petal (petal heel). Avoid using white rose petals, as these may turn grey. Whole rosebuds may taste bitter.
If you have pollen allergies, then eating flowers can affect you. Make sure that you identify the flowers correctly because not all flowers are safe to eat. Do not eat flowers that you picked on the side of the road, or from the florist or floral department. Be sure not to use insecticides, pesticides or synthetic fertiliser on your flowers.
TO USE EDIBLE FLOWERS IN YOUR KITCHEN:
Edible flowers used mostly as a garnish. They provide unique colours, textures and flavours, which has made them a trendy ingredient in the culinary world. You can use them to create delightful sweet treats. They are especially lovely used as cupcake toppers, to decorate iced cakes, pastries and even to add colour to chocolate bark.
For a healthier alternative, edible flowers look beautiful when they are used to garnish salads. You can use crystallised flowers to add flavour to beverages such as smoothies. Edible flowers are lovely added to spreads like butter and fruit preserves.
Crystallising flowers is an uncomplicated process, and the ingredients that you need are merely fresh edible flowers, egg whites and castor sugar. It is, however, a timely and slightly messy process.
RECIPE FOR CRYSTALLISED ROSE PETALS:
White of an egg
Fresh rose petals
1.) Pluck perfect rose petals. You can choose different colours of roses for variation. Pink rose petals look dreamy and pretty.
2.) Whisk the egg white lightly.
3.) Paint egg white onto both sides of the petals, using a smallish brush. You can use a tweezer to hold each, while you coat them.
4.) Dip the petals in the sifted castor sugar and dust them with the sugar to coat. Put them on a piece of greaseproof paper, liberally sprinkled with castor sugar. Sift more sugar over the petals.
5.) Put in a warm place to dry and harden. (12 to 36 hours, depending on the humidity).
6.) You can use the crystallised rose petals to decorate sweet treats and iced cakes, as cupcake toppers, or to brighten puddings. You can also store them in an airtight container for up to three months.
*(On the Modcloth Blog you can find a recipe for vanilla-rose water cupcakes by Heather Baird, from SprinkleBakes.com)
By ‘Simply A Small Potager’
1.) Darina Allen, Grow, Cook, Nourish, 2017.
2.) Sue Bradley, How to crystallise flowers like the Victorians, Telegraph , 2015.
3.) Heather Baird from Sprinkle Bakes, Vanilla-Rose Water Cupcakes, Modcloth Blog, 2012.
4.) Edible Flowers, Wikipedia.org