We have lovely patches of wood violets (Viola papilionacea) growing this time of year, and I was interested to learn that these pretty purple flowers are not only nice to look at, but are edible as well. And there are multitudes of other edible flowers as well--some that may be growing wild in your own backyard!
One particularly quaint way to use these edible flowers is to candy them. They are coated in sugar and allowed to dehydrate, and then can be used to garnish cakes and cupcakes, pressed into cookies, or even as a salad garnish.
Certain flowers take to the "candy-ing" better than others, however. Some good choices for this project are:
- Whole flowers
- Borage (Borago officinalis)
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
- Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus)
- Clover (Trifolium sp.)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
- Flower Petals and Leaves
- Basil Leaves and Flowers (Ocimum basilicum)
- Mint leaves (Mentha sp.)
- Rose Petals (Rosa sp.)
- Yucca petals (Yucca sp.)
There are many choices beyond this list, so use your imagination. Just be sure that:
- You have correctly identified the plant, and are 100% sure that it is edible.
- The plant has not been exposed to pesticides or herbicides.
Also, when you pick your flowers, it is a good idea to leave a couple inches of stem attached. This leaves a convenient little "handle" for you when you are applying the egg white and sugar.
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
edible flowers, stems, or leaves
1. Using a small paintbrush, coat the entire surface of the flower with egg white.
2. Sprinkle the flower with sugar, coating all sides. Shake gently to remove excess sugar.
3. Place sugared flowers on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
4. With your oven set at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, place the flowers inside and allow to dry for around 30 minutes. Depending on the type of flower used, it may take more or less time, so keep an eye on them. When the flowers are dried, they will be somewhat "papery" feeling and stiff. Be gentle with them to avoid breakage.
5. Store the flowers in an airtight container. You may want to place them on a layer of rice to prevent moisture absorption.
6. Use the flowers to garnish cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts; a pretty accent on a dinner plate; a salad garnish; or as an elegant decoration on a buffet table. If you plan on placing them on a moist surface (like frosting), do so immediately before serving.