What else can you do with edible flowers?

You can make infusions. Which is to say you can extract the flavor and aroma of flowers using boiling water or steam. The result can be used as a component of a sorbet, a “fruit soup”, juice, jelly or sauce. An infusion, if it’s concentrated enough, can also be used in custard. The milder variety can be made by combing equal volumes of boiling water and edible flowers in a bowl and allowing the mixture to steep for several hours. The concentrated kind can be made by steaming edible flowers and/or petals in a double boiler over a small quantity of gently simmering water. The petals steam, droop, then ultimately drip their essential oils (infused in droplets of condensed steam) into the bottom of the double boiler. It takes at least half a dozen batches of flours to get a well-concentrated infusion, which I should stress should not be boiled or reduced terribly much. Ten or so minutes of steaming per batch (or until the flowers are completely wilted) is enough.

Once it’s done you can add it to all sorts of things, crème brûlée for instance. Half a teaspoon or so of your flower infusion for each cup of cream in a given recipe should suffice (a quarter teaspoon assuming it’s a commercially-made infusion like rose flower water). Just be sure to add it at the very end of the mixing process after the custard has been heated, you don’t want to boil off those precious essential oils now do you?

Granted, it takes a lot of flowers to do something like that, but then there’s nothing saying it has to be all roses or lilacs. It could just be a representative sampling of edible blooms from your back 40. Then again, if you’re lucky enough to have an apple, lemon or orange tree in your yard, you’re set. It’s a lot of trouble, but can you imagine what the response would be from your dinner guests if you served them a flower-infused crème brûlée or ice cream garnished with candied flowers — all of the blossoms harvested from your own garden? They’d know they’d been danced with that night, ladies and germs, oh yes they would.

4 thoughts on “What else can you do with edible flowers?”

  1. Hi Joe, wasn’t sure where to ask, but I guess here is good. I had an idea of introducing some citrus in a dulce de leche/ cajeta, and considered infusing the milk with lime or orange zest. However I’m not quite sure if the flavors would evaporate with the reduction… I’m assuming that’s why you say not to boil.. If that won’t work, do you have a suggestion on how to pull off such an idea? Adding lime juice at the end would surely cut through the milk would it not?

    1. Hey Kenny!

      My thinking is that yeah, an long extended boiling would obliterate the aromas of citrus. I’d be inclined to maybe add a high quality extract at the very end and then garnish with some real zest. What do you think?

      – Joee

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