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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Edible Flowers - Garden Exchange - Lavender Jelly and Pansy Butter

Today I had a challenge by my two friends, Mardena & Shelly, to bring something to the garden exchange made from edible flowers. The theme of the garden exchange was blossoms. I did a bit of research before I started this process since I didn't want to poison anyone at the exchange. I have been interested in using lavender, jasmine and other types of flowery plants in jams and jellies.

From my research I found that the following flowers are edible;

Rose - Tastes like: sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals.
Pansy -    Tastes like: very mild sweet to tart flavor
Nasturtium - Buds are often pickled and used like capers. Tastes like: sweet, mildly pungent, peppery flavor
Calendula - Tastes like: poor man's saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery, adds a golden hue to foods
Dandelion - Tastes like: very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.
Lavender- Tastes like: floral, slightly perfumy flavor
Violet - Tastes like: sweet, nectar

There are several others as well. I decided to use two of the recipes that they had provided for me and add my own spin on them. Lavender Chardonnay Jelly and Pansy Butter.


First there is a process to drying and using flowers that is important. For the jelly you must use a dried lavender and here is the process;

courtesy of grit.com
 Drying Lavender:
Cut a bundle of lavender from your plant. When you cut each blossom, be sure to leave a few inches of green growth on the plant. Going down to the woody portion of the stem is too extreme. When you have enough blossoms to fill your hand, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle, straighten a paperclip and use it as a hook to hang the lavender bundle upside down in a dry, dark place. The darkness helps the lavender retain its color, and drying it upside down helps lavender retain its blossom shape. Let the lavender dry for about a week until there is no moisture remaining on the stems in the center of the bundle.

Lavender Chardonnay Jelly

2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dried lavender flowers
1/4 cup Chardonnay wine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 pouch (3 oz.) liquid pectin
3 drops of red and 2 drops of blue food color for purple hue

In a large saucepan over high heat bring water just to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in dried lavender flowers, and let steep for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain mixture into a small dutch oven or pot, discarding the lavender flowers. Stir in sugar and wine; continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved. In a spoon drop the two colors and slowly swirl into the jelly.
Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil; add pectin. When the jelly solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Test for gel point using the plate or spoon method. For more information on these methods click here.

After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars. Fill them to within 1/4 headspace and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Make three 1/2 pints.

For the pansy's you need to just clean them before using them in the recipe. Here is the process; 

Cleaning Edible Flowers:
Shake each flower to dislodge insects hidden in the petal folds.
After having removed the stamen, wash the flowers under a fine jet of water or in a strainer placed in a large bowl of water.
Drain and allow to dry on absorbent paper. The flowers will retain their odor and color providing they dry quickly and that they are not exposed to direct sunlight.

Pansy Butter

1/4 cup cut fresh petals (use scissors)
2 sticks sweet unsalted butter, room temperature

Cut with scissors the pansy petals. In the bottom of a small bowl or ramekin line with wax paper. Choose the prettiest pieces and lay them upside down on the bottom. Fold the remaining pieces into softened butter. Gently spoon then spread the butter to fill the bowl. Cover with plastic and put butter in the refrigerator.   

When you are ready to serve invert the butter, remove the wax paper and serve on a pretty plate.