"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it." Psalm 24:1
Today was a presentation to the Ponce Inlet Garden Club on edible flowers. I shared my favorite “baker’s dozen” which are divided between those which are savory and those which are sweet in flavor from the more than 70 flowers that are safe to eat. I also brought three of the blooming favorites from my garden to pass around so that they could not only see, but smell and taste the flowers including the newest addition to my Florida favorites - Roselle!
Native to the East Indies and introduced to Jamaica in the 18th century, this species of hibiscus is widely grown in many areas of Asia, Africa and America. Most gardeners call it annual hibiscus, but cooks refer to it as roselle and in the Caribbean and Mexico it is called red sorrel and jamaica.
Although the calyx is the most commonly used part of this hibiscus, the whole plant is useful. The flowers make an edible garnish as well as being a source of dye and the calyx may be eaten fresh or dried. The tangy, fruity taste of the calyx adds a punch to salads as well as jams, curries, chutneys and a cranberry-like sauce. It is also lovely in sorbets, vinaigrettes and glazes. The simplest way to enjoy the calyx however, is brewed as a pot of tart tea or refreshing iced beverage. It produces a brilliant garnet color and can be used alone or blended with other herbals like rose hips and is caffeine-free.
ROSELLE TEA COOKIES
Steep 1Tbs dried Roselle in 1/4 c boiling water for 10 minutes, strain and cool. Cream together 1/2 c butter and 1/2 c sugar until creamy then add 1 egg. Blend in 2 c flour and 2Tbs of the hibiscus tea. Crush 1tsp Roselle and sprinkle into batter with 1/2tsp baking powder and a dash of salt. Blend well. Form dough into a 2” x 12” log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Slice log into 1/4" slices, place on ungreased cookie sheet, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 10 mins.
Finely chop to produce 1c fresh roselle calyces, 1c cooking apple, 1c red onion and 1Tbs chili pepper. Cover all with 1c vinegar and add 1Tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1/2c raisins, 1tsp ground allspice and 1/8tsp ground cloves. Boil for 10 minutes than add 1c sugar (depends on taste and desired texture) and boil one hour stirring continuously. Cool completely, then use or refrigerate.
The mass of vivid red, tiny trumpet-shaped edible flowers of pineapple sage are a visual delight, blooming in late summer until the first frost. Harvest flowers just as they open and in the morning for the sweetest flavor. Pick individual florets leaving the unopened buds on the stalk to harvest later.
The flowers of pineapple sage have a milder citrus-mint flavor than the leaves and are best used fresh for fragrance and flavoring in summer fruit salads & salsas, cream cheese or butters. The separate flower petals, reminiscent of honeysuckle, are among the best tasting edible flowers and can also be used as an eye-catching garnish sprinkled on green salads or ice cream, floating in drinks of all sort and especially in contrast to creamy soups like potato or leek. Pineapple sage blooms can be sugared and used to garnish desserts and decorate cookie platters, plus they may be made into delicious fritters and added to pound cake or cornbread.
PINEAPPLE SAGE SPREAD
Cream 1c ricotta cheese and 1Tbs milk, then add 3Tbs confectioner’s sugar and mix well. Stir in 1/4tsp cinnamon. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour. Stir mixture and gently fold in 1/4c drained crushed pineapple and a handful of pineapple sage florets. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Transfer to serving bowl, garnish with more pineapple sage florets if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature on fresh-baked muffins, toast or most crackers
PINEAPPLE SAGE SALSA
Combine 2c diced pineapple, 1/2c diced papaya, 1/2c diced red bell pepper, 1/4c minced sweet vidalia onion, 1Tbs fresh lime juice, 1/2tsp five-spice powder, 1/4tsp cayenne pepper and 1/3c pineapple sage florets and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate a few hours to meld flavors. Serve over grilled chicken or fish or with tortilla chips as an appetizer.
MEXICAN MINT MARIGOLD
(Tagetes lucida )
Mexican mint marigold also known as “Texas Tarragon” has a lot to offer. The stems bear abundance clusters of bright, small, single, golden yellow marigold-like edible blossoms in fall when other herbs have played out for the season.
The blossom petals, which are milder yet more anise-like than tarragon, are used to make an herbal butter or cheese spread with the leaves plus orange zest and minced onions. Add Mexican mint marigold petals to fruit punches or hot mulled cider or simply make a unique vinegar for dressing green salads. The flower petals can add color and flavor to soups, but should be added late in the cooking process, as its flavor tends to cook out. Mexican mint marigold has become the darling of many Southwestern chefs; some even make a pesto from it!
MEXICAN MINT MARIGOLD PESTO
Place 1/4 cup Mexican mint marigold leaves and 2 cloves minced garlic in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add 2Tbs chopped pecans and process. With the machine running, add 2Tbs olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Remove to a bowl and add 1Tbs grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Before serving add Mexican mint marigold flower petals.
MEXICAN MINT MARIGOLD COOKIES
Cream together 1/2c butter, 1c brown sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat in 1 egg. Add 1/2c toasted sesame seeds, 1/2c chopped pecans and 1Tbs Mexican mint marigold flowers to the butter mixture. Combine 3/4c flour, 1/4tsp salt and 1/4tsp baking powder and add to mixture. Refrigerate dough for half an hour. Drop in small mounds 3 inches apart onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.
The above information and recipes are from my updated booklet “Edible Flowers” and two of the members received a copy as a door prize. The original version is available to purchase at Full Moon Natives & Herbs gift shop and features scented geraniums instead of the roselle.
For more info on edible flowers and additional recipes go to these earlier presentation posts: