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Drying Recommendations For Edible Flowers

Edible flowers that are best adapted for drying are roses, lavender, calendula, violas, cornflowers and marigolds, according to English garden writer Stephanie Hafferty in her article for the most current Permaculture Magazine. “As I only preserve flowers that I have grown myself, I usually give them a good shake to dislodge any hiding insects, but it is recommended that you rinse the flowers under cold water and dry thoroughly before preserving,” says Hafferty, “Some flowers are dried whole, others only the petals are dried.”

Hafferty notes that “bamboo steamers, Thai bamboo dishes and those blue plastic mushroom crates discarded by (British) greengrocers,” make good drying containers and racks. “Line with kitchen paper or muslin, spread the flowers or petals carefully, then leave to dry somewhere dark and airy,” she adds, “I use the cupboard which also houses our boiler as it is dark and well ventilated. You can also pop in silica gel packets to keep the air dry. The flowers take a week or so to dry, but check them regularly. They will feel dry, light and rustle when ready.”

The veteran gardener and chef also sometimes uses a mechanical dehydrator on its lowest setting, which normally takes only several hours. Or the flowers may be tied whole in bunches “and hang somewhere airy—hanging them inside a paper bag works well as this not only protects from dust, but also catches any petals that which may drop off. Once thoroughly dry, store in labeled glass jars in a cool, dry cupboard until needed,” she adds, “They keep well for at least a year. Rehydrate with a little water or add directly to drinks, jams, cake batter and other recipes.”

Other Edible Flower Preservation Recipes

“N.B. All of these recipes can be made using larger or smaller quantities by adjusting the ratio. The following recipes use American cup measures. You can use any measure you choose (I often use a tea cup.), as long as you keep the ratios of petals to liquid/solids the same,” says British master gardener Stephanie Hafferty.

Flower Sugar

In a large glass container, gently mix 2 cups of granulated sugar with one cup of flowers (Best to use only flowers or petals that can be eaten whole for this.) and leave for a week. The moisture and flavours will be absorbed by the sugar. Use in baking or drinks.

Flower Vinegar

1 cup of flowers/petals

4 cups vinegar (Use white wine or cider vinegar.)

Put the flowers in a large glass jar and pour on the vinegar. Leave on a sunny windowsill for about a week to infuse. Strain and bottle. Store at room temperature—it will last for about six months.

Flower Butter

1 packet (250g) organic butter

Either: 12 nasturtium flowers / 10 chive flower heads / a small palmful of rosemary flowers / a cup of fresh rose petals (you can work this out by eye, depending on which petals you are using)

Soften the butter and gently mix with the petals. Shape as you choose (You can be as fanciful as you like here.); perhaps add some whole flowers to the top and refrigerate for about two hours before serving. This freezes well.

Stuffed Flowers, Tempura Flowers

Courgette, squash, and daylily flowers can be stuffed, dipped in batter and deep fried.

Flower Ice Cubes

Half fill the ice cube tray with water. Add the flowers and position carefully. Freeze for several hours, then top up with more water and freeze until solid. (This method stops the flowers from floating to the top when freezing.)

Pickled Petals for Savoury Dishes

1 cup petals (e.g. rose) to make either sugar-free pickle or honeyed pickle:

Sugar-free pickle

Warm 1 cup of cider or white wine vinegar.

Carefully mix in the petals and leave for at least two hours, strain and reserve the vinegar to make salad dressings.

Honeyed pickle

Combine 1 cup cider or white wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons of honey and gently heat in a pan. (Mix as above for sugar-free pickle.)

Rose Vinegar

1 cup rose petals—the most perfumed ones you can find in your garden

4 cups vinegar (I use organic white wine or cider vinegar.)

Put the flowers in a large glass jar and pour on the vinegar. Leave on a sunny windowsill for about a week to infuse. Strain and bottle. Store at room temperature—it will last for about six months.

This makes a delicious, healthy drink diluted with water, and for a fragrant base for a salad dressing, mix together: 20 rose petals (optional), ½ cup olive oil, ½ cup rose vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Other uses of rose vinegar: Makes a lovely skin wash and toner. Use as a mouthwash and gargle. Add to the bath.

“Stephanie Hafferty is an organic no dig kitchen gardener, chef, teacher and writer, specializing in home-grown and seasonal food.”

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