How to crystallize/candy edible flowers and petals
It's quite late in the floral season but why not give a go at preserving some of these beautiful blooms, so that when the light is low in December, you can open up a jar and be reminded of vibrant summer colours. Hayley shows us how to sugar up Autumn's edible flowers but also discusses which are the best when candied.
When I came across some tiny jam jars at a local tea room being discarded every time somebody had a scone, I couldn't bare to watch them being put in the bin. So with a nifty bit of freecycling, I popped them in my bag to use for some kind of edible present. I considered jam, but that would be a bit stingy due to their tininess so I had to come up with some kind of artisanal sweet. I've always wanted to crystallise petals and thought what dainty delicacy this would be to recieve as a gift.
We're all familiar with rose petal decorations but here are some other flowers you could use at this time of year:
- Honeysuckle - If I were a bee <queue Beyonce wailing>, I'd hang out by the honeysuckle bush all day long. These are filled with nectar and my favourite floral treat.
- Chamomile - the petals are so small they get lost when candying and the central floret ends up looking like a pretty yellow alpine strawberry. You might still be able to find some late bloomers. I always get a slightly euphoric feeling when eating these, possibly because they taste so good but maybe because chamomile's medicinal benefits really work.
- Nasturtiums - Peppery and fierce orange, these will give your candy bouquet a fiery hit.
- Sweet violets - I've played with sweet violets before on here. They are a spring flower but you might be able to catch some viola tricolor at the moment. Violets are probably the most beautiful flower to put on top of a cake and it's a romantic notion but give me a violet flavoured macaroon and my heart really could be yours eternally.
All you need is an egg white and a plate of caster sugar. Method:
- Mix the egg white with a tiny splash of water (roughly 1 - 2 teaspoons)
- With a soft paintbrush or basting brush, paint over a thin layer of egg white onto the petals, making sure you cover every nook and cranny.
- Dip and sprinkle your flower with the caster sugar
- Leave to dry on a baking tray for 1 - 2 hours
- Reapply the egg white and sprinkle over more sugar
- Check for any uncovered areas and reapply where necessary
- Leave to dry for 2 days.
And I know it goes without saying but please always be cautious when foraging and use a decent guide to help you pick only the best blooms.
For more gluten free cooking and home grown recipes, visit Hayley's Blog, the Delectable Diary
It cannot be denied that the old fashioned sweets, candies and crystallized fruits are tastefully relished by young and old with the same enthusiasm.