Archive for the Edible Flowers Category

Loring’s Lei

Posted in Edible Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by PickMeYard

Loring has been asking me to make a necklace out of flowers with her for quite some time.  I always promise, but don’t follow through.  Yesterday I dropped what I was doing and said, “Let’s make that lei”.

We collected a bowl full of our edible jasmine flowers.  They have a perfect little hole in them when they’re picked.  I threaded a needle for Loring and let her do the rest.  She had no trouble sewing the flowers into a necklace all by herself.

Check out the Crafting Chicks blog for an adorable lei project that can be done with straws and paper with kids.

The jasminum sambac flowers are perfect for stringing a homemade lei. This is the ‘Maid of Orleans’ variety of jasmine.

Loring is sewing her lei and singing gleefully.  Although, she was really concentrating when I took the photo.

Loring and her homemade Lei.

Sometimes we really do need to stop and smell the flowers!

Come grow with us!

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The Lemonade Experience

Posted in Edible Flowers, edible leaves with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by PickMeYard

We had a blast with our lemonade experience.  Since everybody has different likes and dislikes when it comes to flavors, we wanted to do a little experiment.  Grayson and a group of his friends decided to pick a bunch of different leaves and flowers from our yard and add them to homemade lemonade to see which ones tasted the best.  They gathered lemon verbena, Chinese mint, provence lavender, roses, jasmine, moujean tea leaves (Nashia inaguensis), kaffir lime leaves, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), rosemary, basil, and stevia. 

We boiled some water with brown sugar to make a sugar syrup to add as our sweetener.  Then we lined up a bunch of glasses of water with freshly juiced lemon or lime.  The kids decided which herbs and flowers to combine.   To get our flavors, we heated a little water in a pot and briefly added the herbs to make an infusion.  (The herbs would usually be left in the pot for 10 minutes with a cover to make an infusion, but we got plenty of flavor by infusing them briefly.)  We then strained the flavored water into our glasses of lemon water and sugar.  

This is a bowl of some of the flowers and leaves we used to make our flavored lemonades.

We sliced open a bourbon vanilla pod and scraped out the seeds to use in some of our homemade recipes.

We used organic brown sugar, lemons and limes in our lemonade/limeade drinks.

The kids picked some meyer lemons from the yard to see if they might make a better tasting lemonade.

Meyer lemons picked from our yard.

Almost all of the concoctions turned out tasting really great and “kid approved”.  The tasting panel consisted of two 8-year-olds,  a 13-year-old, a 10-year old and a toddler.  However, the basil lemonade did not please everybody.  One of them said it was actually “disgusting” and one said it had an unpleasant after-taste.  Grayson said he really liked it.

The moujean tea leaves, vanilla seed and Luzianne tea bag lemonade made an awesome "tea-monade".

All the kid tasters loved the Chinese mint lemonade.  It was extremely refreshing because it seemed to have more menthol than the spearmint I usually use. 

The edible jasmine and rose petals made a really unique and pleasant floral tasting lemonade.

The kids said they didn’t like the jasmine and rose petal lemonade, they loved it.  I made sure they understood that the jasmines are the edible variety (maid of Orleans and Grand Duke of Tuscany Jasminum sambac).  There are many varieties of jasmine that are poisonous.  I also explained to them that most roses are sprayed with a ton of insecticides and fungicides.  I don’t spray my roses with anything, therefore they are edible for us.

The lavender lemonade and the rosemary lemonade were nice.  The kaffir lime leaf limeade was also good. 

Some of the testers.

The lemon balm lemonade was outstanding and was the winner by a landslide.  Not a single one of us had any intestinal distress of any sort and we all slept like babies.  This was a fun time and we all want to do it again… next time with iced-tea.  

Come grow with us!

Lotus…An Exotic Treasure: Part I

Posted in Edible Flowers, Edible Roots with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by PickMeYard

We purchased a small cutting of a beautiful lotus for our water garden last year.  I hadn’t even thought of growing them until I visited Tadege in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  He has the most gorgeous lotus plants growing all over his backyard oasis.  I assumed they would be too tropical for Southwest Florida and I assumed I needed a huge pond to grow them in.  I was soooo wrong.  

A lotus flower growing in our small pond.

 

I now have several pots of lotus growing in our small, backyard pond.  Since we had such a cold winter last year, I took them out of the pond over the winter and put them in a few pots of water to keep them wet.  The lotus were dormant and the pots looked like there was nothing in them but soil and  rocks. (I cover the tops of the pots with rocks to keep the soil from floating  to the surface of the pond).  I didn’t pay them much attention to them over the winter.  They even dried out a couple of times.   

When the weather warmed up this year, the lotus came back to life. I was so happy to see them as I absolutely adore these plants!  I found a great website called Winter Care Lotus with lots of  information about how to over-winter lotus.  

This is about three weeks of growth of the lotus in our pond.

 

 I put the pots with the emerging lotus back into our pond. They are surprising us with flower after flower.  

A lotus bloom.

 

A lotus bud that is just about to open.

 

The flower is opening...

 

It's open!

 

This flower is several days old. The leaves will soon fall off and a seed pod will remain on the stem.

 

 The lotus grows well in pots used for water gardens.  It stands to reason that the bigger, the better for the pot size that is used.  I think that a 3o gallon pot is sufficient.   TaDeGe says a 15 gallon pot is sufficient.  I have  lotus growing in several of my pots that I use as water gardens.  The lotus that is growing in our small pond is being decimated by our three ducks.  I have to come up with a solution to this problem.   

A lotus leaf.

 

One of our water gardens. This one has lotus and several varieties of lilies growing in it.

 

The tall bud sticking out is a lotus bud that will flower soon. The lotus bud starts out small and gets bigger and bigger until it pops open.

 

I bought my original lotus from TaDeGe in Ft. Lauderdale, but he sells it as a “pick up only”.  I found a website, aboutthelotus.com, that has a list of places all over the U.S. to buy lotus.  You can grow lotus from seed but it is better to start it from a cutting.   

Did you know that lotus is edible?  It’s a staple of the Asian diet.  Grayson and I couldn’t wait to try some lotus root.  My next post is going to tell you all about our experience eating lotus.  

Come grow with us!

To Eat or Not to Eat, That is the Question

Posted in Edible Flowers with tags , , , , , on May 10, 2010 by PickMeYard

Our morning harvest of fresh picked jasmine flowers.

Whenever we talk about Jasmine in our yard, we are referring to Jasminum sambac…the edible jasmines.  There are many gorgeous varieties.  We have two of them in our garden and they are blooming profusely right now.  The more flowers we pick off them, the more the plant gives us.  So every day we pick all the flowers and bring them in the house.  The smell of jasmine floats through our house daily like a summer dream.

That's a 'Grand Duke of Tuscany' flower on the top left and two 'Maid of Orleans' flowers on the bottom.

The ‘Maid of Orleans’ variety is used to make jasmine tea.  The blooms are added to the tea to give it a light scent.  I’m thinking that a jasmine creme brulee would be the cat’s meow.

Grand Duke of Tuscany variety of jasmine

The  ‘Grand Duke of Tuscany’ looks like a small rose.  The petals don’t fall off this flower when it ages, they just turn brown.

'Grand Duke of Tuscany' about to bloom.

The obviously intoxicating aroma of jasmine.

Smells so good you'll want to eat it...and you can!

The edible jasmines are a lovely addition to our garden.  I’m still hunting for the ‘Mali Chat’ and ‘Mysore Mulli’ varieties.  The hunt will continue until I find them.  Isn’t the hunt part of the fun? I regularly check  TopTropicals to see what they have in stock. 

Remember that there are many varieties of jasmine that are highly poisonous.

Come grow with us!

The Neroli Blossom

Posted in Edible Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2010 by PickMeYard

This is Neroli

Neroli (Citrus aurantium) is the blossom of the bitter orange tree.  It is almost exactly like the blossom of the sweet orange, but the blossom of the bitter orange is the one used by perfumers and aromatherapists.  The scent of this blossom is heavenly.  Our home has thousands of acres of orange groves near us and they are all snow-white with blooms.  The scent of neroli in the evenings makes the entire family happy.  It’s amazing what an aroma can do for your mood.  The essential oil of neroli  is extracted from the blossom and said to be an antidepressant, aphrodisiac, hypnotic, and reduces anxiety when used in aromatherapy.  It seems contradictory, but the scent of neroli  is supposed to stimulate the brain waves while having sedative properties that relax the body.  Neroli is also beneficial for the heart because it regulates rhythm.  Two drops of oil can be mixed with 4 tablespoons of honey and added to a bath.   

Sweet Orange Trees in Full Bloom

A Small Orange Grove

The neroli blossom was named after Princess Anna Maria de la Tremoille of Nerola, Italy.  She wore the oil as a perfume.  It was acclaimed for its ability to fight plague and fever in the 16th Century.  It is one of the most expensive essential oils.  It takes one ton of orange blossoms to produce one quart of oil.   “Orange flower water” is a by-product of the distillation process for neroli blossoms.  The flower water is less expensive and is the main ingredient of the original eau de cologne.

A Navel Orange

The orange tree produces three separate essential oils.  The essential oil of neroli is made from the blossom.  An essential oil is also made from the fruit called orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis).  The third oil is called petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) and it’s made from the leaves and twigs.  There have been many, many books written on aromatherapy.  Essential oils are medicinal and healing.  It is a wonderful world to explore.  However, essential oils must be mixed with a carrier base such as almond oil or olive oil when they are applied to the skin or added to the bath.  An essential oil is extremely potent and will go straight to the bloodstream when they are applied topically. They must be used responsibly and in an educated manner. If you are lucky enough to acquire an essential oil such as neroli, I recommended that you also get a book to go with it.  My two favorite books on aromatherapy and essential oil are The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Norwood and Aromatherapy for Dummies.  My favorite place to order my essential oils from is Kobashi.  Their oils are chemical free and I trust their products because they go out of their way to only sell what they have tested for purity.

The neroli blossom is an edible flower.  A few petals could be added to a salad with nasturtium petals, carrots, almonds, and raisins.  My kids love it when I add neroli blossoms to their lemonade with extra sugar.  Sometimes I just add a blossom to a pitcher of water and leave it on the counter to remind the family to drink some water.  A neroli blossom makes the water just a little more exciting.  I am extra careful to only use citrus blossoms from our yard because I know they haven’t been sprayed with anything.

Come grow with us!

Nasturt-yums

Posted in Edible Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by PickMeYard

"Empress of India" Variety of Nasturtium

The nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)  is my family’s favorite plant.  The leaves, flowers, and seed pods are edible and beautiful.  They have a floral, peppery flavor.  Grayson says they’re spicy. My daughter always picks a handful and walks around nibbling on them while she enjoys their beauty. I’ve heard that rabbits hate them and planting them around the edges of your vegetable garden is a good bunny deterrent. 

A Mixture of Nasturtiums

There are many varieties of nasturtiums.  Some are climbing types and others are short and bushy.  The flowers are about 2.5 inches in diameter and come in many, many colors.  They are easy to grow from seed and actually flower better in poor soil.  A rich soil will give you a lot of leaves and few flowers. My favorite website for viewing the different nasturtium varieties and buying seeds is at sunrise seeds.  They look and taste great in salads, sandwiches, pasta, and vegetable dishes.  I love them stuffed with cream cheese.  A great recipe for nasturtium vinegar and other recipes  by Peter Crowley can be found at gardnermuseum.org.  If you were interested in making capers from the seed pod, I found a recipe for “poor man’s caper”.   The bottled capers at the grocery store come from the unopened flower bud of a Mediterranean bush called Capparis spinosa

Honeybee in a Peach Nasturtium

Nasturtiums are really easy to grow from seed.  I like to plant them around the edges in my larger containers with my citrus trees.  The trailing variety cascades beautifully down the sides of the pot.  I’ve observed that nasturtiums don’t do well in Florida when the summer heat gets oppressive.  I usually pull them out.  It’s an easy chore because they are quite delicate.  

Another honeybee in Nasturtium

I make a nasturtium salad dressing that my family often asks for.  It’s really easy and fast to mix and I store the unused portion in the refrigerator.  The recipe is: 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, a couple of squeezes of lime or lemon juice, 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 3-4 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of chopped nasturtium stems.  I mix it well because the honey settles to the bottom.  To make it creamy, I add plain yogurt.  I use the nasturtium flowers as a garnish or I toss them on top of a salad. 

 

I like nasturtiums chopped up and mixed with butter and chives too. 

"Strawberries and Cream" Nasturtium

My three-year-old loves to eat them out of hand, but she is always pleasantly surprised when I serve her sliced cucumbers with different colored nasturtium flowers. She’ll nibble a couple off the plate, but they are mostly for color and to make her food look appetizing.  

A Snack for Loring

 

 

 

 

Come grow with us!

Jasminum Sambac…The “King of Flowers”

Posted in Edible Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by PickMeYard

 

The fragrance from this flower makes me swoon from intoxication.  It smells so wonderful you might wish you could eat it…and you can.  This flower is the glorious jasmine.  It has been highly sought after and prized for many centuries.  Once you’ve held it in your hand, you will want it in your garden as well.  It blooms profusely and will even do so in filtered light.  It doesn’t mind short periods of drought and is easy to care for.  Since it is a tropical, it grows in zones 9-10.  But, if you don’t live in the tropics, don’t give up on it.  It can be grown indoors!  It would need to be kept in an area that has quite a lot of  sunlight, but not so much that it burns the plant leaves.  When the weather warms up over 50 degrees  it can be taken outside.  We had many nights here in zone 9b that were in the low 20’s this year and my jasmines are fine.  I keep some in pots and some in the ground.  They do grow great in pots.

The ‘Grand Duke of Tuscany’ jasmine is my favorite.  That’s a flower in the picture above.  It is very slow-growing.  I am also growing ‘Maid of Orleans’, which grows quickly and vines.  This is the variety that is used to make jasmine tea.  There are several other varieties that I have been looking for.  I know I’ll find them eventually…’Arabian Nights’, ‘Mysore Mulli’, ‘Belle of India’ and the elusive ‘Mali Chat’.

My favorite way to enjoy these beauties is to pick a few flowers and add them to a pitcher of ice water.  That’s it. Voila! Jasmine Water.  You could let it sit for 24 hours or just enjoy it immediately.  I find that these flowers don’t need to sit for long to flavor your entire pitcher with a light floral flavor.  Refreshing and yummy.  I add sugar for the kids, but I prefer mine without.  My kids ask for this everyday when it’s blooming.  Since I usually have more flowers than I know what to do with, I usually just let some float in a pretty bowl on the counter to fill the air with the scent of jasmine. 

I think we are all a little happier when the house smells like jasmine. There are endless possibilities to the culinary delights that could be created with these flowers.  A sugary syrup would be exotic and irresistable.  It can be  poured over fruits, ice cream, iced teas , rice, etc.  However, I want to add a warning here:  the jasmine that you are likely to encounter growing in parking lots and in most people’s yards is highly poisonous!  It is not Jasminum sambac, it just smells similar.

If you’re hooked now and want one too, they can be purchased through Top Tropicals plant nursery.  They have a great website that is full of information on many kinds of plants.  I’ve always had good luck with them.  Actually, now I’m going to see if that ‘Mali Chat’ is available through them.  

 Come grow with us!