Orange Blossom: The Essence Behind the Day of the Dead ￼
Flower Power: Garnish Your Spring Cocktails with Edible Flowers
Consuming freshly picked flowers, be it for nutrition, therapy or sensorial stimulation, has been part of human experience throughout time.
Many different ancient civilizations utilized flowers for natural medicine and for coloring and flavoring food. Exotic Mexican cuisine, for example, has been using edible flowers for many generations. Tejate, one of the most adored ancestral beverages in Oaxaca, is made with cacao flowers, and hibiscus flowers are used for a fresh water commonly served on tables across the country.
Across the globe and across the centuries, edible flowers have been used raw as well as in cooked dishes, in desserts and for flavoring beverages. Today, we can use these same floral elements in the cocktail word to embellish our concoctions.
There are so many possibilities for using fresh flowers behind the bar, such as decorating beverages and coloring and flavoring jellies, wines and vinegars. Dehydrated flowers can flavor salt and sugar, or be used for infusions. Candied flowers can be used to decorate desserts and beverages. And when dried and ground, flowers can also be used as both an ingredient and accoutrement.
What Are Edible Flowers?
Edible flowers are those that can be consumed without endangering one’s health. Although not all bartenders and chefs use flowers for food, their popularity has increased in recent years, within a safe amount of daily intake.
general, as well as the interest of researchers from different areas of knowledge, as they are considered new sources of nutrients
and bioactive compounds. However, the safety of its use is still questioned due to the lack of more information about thesafe amount of daily intake.
Everyone enjoys giving and receiving a beautiful bouquet of flowers. That same bright, happy feeling comes when being presented with a meal or beverage that has been decorated with flowers or has them integrated as an ingredient. The unique aromas and visual display of flowers in food and drink are always memorable.
Although the use of flowers in food is well known, in the last decades their use in cocktails has increased significantly due to the change in habits of consumers, who look for natural and sustainable ingredients along with functional and healthy properties.
Curious Facts About Edible Flowers
- The Chinese were the first to experiment with flowers as food and various recipes can be traced back as far back as 3,000 B.C.
- In Roman times, dianthus, violets and roses were used in certain dishes, and lavender was used in sauces.
- In the 17th century, in France, violets were used to color sugar, syrups and other beverages.
- In Central Europe, in place of honey, it is still common to consume breaded elderberry and dandelion flowers boiled with sugar
- Some species which we commonly consider vegetables are actually flowers or parts of flowers. For example, we consume the inflorescence bracts of artichoke; the inflorescence itself of cauliflower; and the flosser stems with closed bunds from broccoli.
- Along with marigold and bougainvillea, cosmos and antigonon flowers are used in northern Thailand to prepare floral teas.
- Flowers are rich in nectar and pollen and studies have shown pollen to be nutritious, packed with vitamins and minerals.
Edible Flowers Used in the Culinary and Cocktail Worlds
In the edible flower world, there is a wide variety of colors, textures, sizes and flavors. Some of the world’s most commonly used edible flowers include:
Liqueurs, distillates and waters made with flowers
In the cocktail world, we are familiar with flower macerations or infusions using alcohol or water. Common flowers for this technique are lavender, rose, elderberry, violet, marigold, carnation, orange blossom, calendula, chamomile, artichoke, acacia and jasmine. Herbs can also be treated and used this way, as can spices, roots and berries — opening up the whole world of botanicals.
A flower’s soft, subtle and elegant fragrance, along with its balanced acidity in the mouth, offers a smooth glamor to cocktails. Combining the delicate power of the flower essence with other flavors and textures can often provide the perfect harmony that delights the palate.
Fresh flower waters, like hibiscus, lavender, bougainvillea, rose and orange blossom, as well as flower-based infusions and teas, are all protagonists in cocktails these days. Check out this Jasmine Tea Margarita recipe.
Another great idea for elaborating cocktails is using ice cubes made from a simple syrup previously macerated with edible flowers and then decorated with them. Or, try experimenting by making syrups and crystallizing the flowers.
Tips and Tricks for Growing and Utilizing Your Own Edible Flowers
Growing your own edible flowers allows you to experiment and share with your clients what you’ve grown yourself and used to create a colorful and tasty cocktail.
Keep these tips in mind:
1.- Be sure your homegrown edible flowers are clean, fresh and free from pests and disease.
2.- Pick the flowers fresh from the garden the day you want to use them.
3.- Maintain good personal hygiene and practices.
4.- Lilac, elder, marrow and squash flowers can all be dipped in batter and deep fried.
5.- White wine or cider vinegar can be flavored with flowers. Rose, violet, elderflower, nasturtium and lavender are popular choices for this.
6.- Do not use flowers found growing by the roadside as they can be contaminated.
7.- Be aware that some edible flowers can cause allergies and asthma.
8.- Always harvest flowers in the morning.
9.- Put long-stemmed flowers in water and keep in a cool place.
10.- Remove the stamens and pistils from the flowers as well as the leaf-like sepals at the flower’s base.
Edible Flowers: Recommended Books
Edible Flower Garden
Botanicals with Benefits: Develop a New Relationship with Your Garden
The Edible Flower: A Modern Guide to Growing, Cooking and Eating Edible Flowers
Erin Bunting, Jo Facer
Cocktail Recipes with Edible Flowers
Flor de Nube
- 40ml Olmeca Altos Blanco
- 30ml Everleaf Mountain (non Alc) (cherry Blossom and rosehip)
- 20ml Crème de Mure
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- 15ml Orgeat
- 2.5ml Foamer (or Egg whites/Aquafaba)
- 70ml Soda water
Dry shake then wet shake all ingredients except soda
Serve in highball with no ice