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rainbowgardener
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uses for flowers

I started to add this to my thread where I talked about the redbud flower jelly. But I decided that was off topic, because that is the "hard winter" thread about all the things that didn't come back and I don't know how the redbud jelly got in there in the first place.

So: On a different note, the redbud flower jelly came out very nice. The infusion is a gorgeous purple-pink, but by the time you add lemon juice and a lot of sugar, it tames down to rosy pink, but still very pretty. Very interesting taste. All the flower jellies come out a bit similar, because of the fruit pectin, which adds its own tart/fruity flavor, but the redbud has interesting notes of its own.

I make lots of different herb and flower jellies. The process is the same for all of them. Pour boiling water over the flowers and let them steep (don't boil them, just steep). After a few hours to over night, strain all the flowers back out. Bring the infusion to a boil, add a bunch of sugar and bring to rolling boil. Add fruit pectin and boil hard for one minute. Decant in to sterilized jars. One of my favorites is purple basil jelly, which is also a beautiful color, but the redbud flower jelly was a big hit and people ate it up fast. I might have to go get more redbud flowers quick before they are done!

You can make syrup instead of jelly just by leaving out the pectin and just boiling down a little to thicken.

Lilacs are in bloom now, so I made lilac ice cream. It's a similar process but with a milk infusion, not a water infusion. Steep the lilac flowers in warmed milk, strain them out, turn the infused milk into custard by adding egg yolks and sugar. Chill and pour into ice cream maker. I added a little bit of vanilla. It is very interesting, probably will not be my favorite, but good. The lilac has a unique flavor all its own, a little bit flowery and a little bit vegetable. It was a little disappointing though, that the lilac infusion has no color. My lilac flowers are not deep purple to start with, and the color just disappeared. I'm sure I could have added food coloring, but I didn't want to cheat like that.
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ElizabethB
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Re: uses for flowers

RBG - How much is a bunch of sugar and how much fruit pectin? You mentioned something about lemon juice - when and how much? I have a good bit of fennel. That would make a nice jelly. Probably no color. I don't have purple basil but always have a good bit of sweet basil - again not much color but a lovey flavor.

What a great idea! Thanks
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rainbowgardener
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Re: uses for flowers

Yeah I wasn't trying to give a recipe, just the general principle. I do make green basil jelly also and just put a little bit of green food coloring in it. It does come out nice. To my taste, fennel jelly by itself might be a bit strong. You could try apple-fennel jelly, plum fennel jam, fennel-mint jelly, etc. Strawberry-anise hyssop jam is one of my favorites that I make and fennel would probably work as well in that.

Here's the redbud flower jelly recipe I used:

3 C redbud flowers - infuse in boiling water until the water cools and then leave in the refrigerator over night. (Many other flowers only need to infuse for a few hours, but all the redbud recipes I found specified 24 hrs of infusion. Maybe redbud flowers don't let go of their essence very easily, I don't know.)

Strain out and discard all the flowers. It is interesting. When you are looking at the flowers in water, even in a clear plastic container, it doesn't look like it has color and the flowers are all faded. Suddenly when you pour off the infusion it is beautiful purple-pink.

Add 2 T lemon juice and 3 T powdered pectin and bring to boil. It helps to treat the pectin like you would cornstarch and moisten it first. Otherwise it tends to lump up in the water.

Add 2 C sugar, bring to hard rolling boil and boil for one minute. Pour in to sterilized jelly jars and seal.

I didn't can them, because in my experience sometimes in boiling for canning, the jelling breaks down again. Since it got eaten up so fast, it didn't really matter. :)
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ElizabethB
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Re: uses for flowers

Thanks - since Louisiana strawberries are in season that may be good with the fennel. Do you cook the strawberries down with just sugar then add the fennel infusion or cook the strawberries with both the infusion and sugar? Using infusions is new to me.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: uses for flowers

Well, jams are a bit different from jellies. Jellies are just the infusion, with no solids. Here's the anise hyssop/ strawberry jam recipe I have used:

Strawberry – Anise Hyssop Jam

1 lb fresh strawberries
1 / 2 C sugar
12 (or more) anise hyssop leaves,
(rinsed and dried)
2 T fresh lemon juice

Put hyssop leaves in the pot with sugar
Wash, trim, chop strawberries, add to pot and stir
Simmer, stirring frequently
When the berries start to cook and soften, smash
(with potato masher)
Simmer 5 min, stirring occasionally/ gently
Remove from heat, strain out the solids (do not discard)
Return the liquid to the stove and boil 20 min
(until reduced by half)
Pick the hyssop leaves out from the strawberry solids
Add the strawberries to the pot with lemon juice
Simmer stirring 10 min
Pour into sterilized jars
Can in hot water bath 5 min

This doesn't use an infusion exactly, because the strawberries make their own juice and you don't want to add water to that, (don't want to dilute it) so you are essentially infusing the hyssop leaves in the strawberry juice. It doesn't use pectin because the strawberries have their own. The only thickening is as you would do with syrup, boiling it down. It does turn in to jam consistency, which is not jelled as hard as jelly, but thicker than syrup.

You could adapt this for fennel.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Fri May 02, 2014 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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applestar
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Re: uses for flowers

Rainbowgardener, can you take some pictures and post them? (Is there any left :>)
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ElizabethB
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Re: uses for flowers

Thanks - will try that and also a sweet basil infusion jelly.
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Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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applestar
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Re: uses for flowers

I opted to prune the tree in the frontyard and pluck the flowers on the patio:
image.jpg
Only filled this much of the bowl with redbud flowers and buds:
image.jpg
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rainbowgardener
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Re: uses for flowers

It's not flowers, but tonight I made fresh mint - chocolate chip ice cream with fresh picked mint from the garden. Comes out really nice, much more true mint leaf flavor than the commercial stuff.
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Re: uses for flowers

Still not flowers, but the most recent ice cream is strawberry - anise hyssop. Wow! wonderful! It has pureed strawberries in it AND little bits of whole chopped strawberry. It tastes very much of fresh strawberries, nothing like the store strawberry ice cream and then the hint of anise/ mint flavor. I was a little cautious with the anise hyssop, since I was winging it with no recipe and hadn't done it before. If I do it again, I'll be a little more generous.

Next up I think will be basil-mint ice cream! I'm sure lemon balm would work with something, maybe mint or berries. I'm looking around at the flowers seeing what's blooming that could go in ice cream. I saw a mention, but not a recipe, of marigold-blueberry ice cream. Or I know, what about bee balm ice cream! ?
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Lindsaylew82
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Re: uses for flowers

Next up I think will be basil-mint ice cream!
The hospital I work at has a chef that is REALLY into supporting local and organic. It is REALLY something special. Everyday, they put out something different made with whatever they have on hand and this week, they had hand scooped Lemon Basil Sherbert. It was SO AMAZING!!! And it was very inspiring! I'm making basil lemonade for a cookout today. The flavors were so nice together.

I didn't mean to post that above paragraph, but your last post freshened the memory! :()

Back to flower uses....

This past weekend I went to Mt Mitchell State Park to spread my daddy's ashes. He was an avid cyclist and had a hand in making that race happen in it's early years. While there, I went to the gift shop to get a bottle of water and noticed that they were selling jams and jellies that were made locally. One that caught my interest was Kudzu Jelly. I bought it and we tried it on toast.

OHHHHHHH.... It is sooooooo good! Like a mild grape jelly.

I did some research, and it's made using the blossoms of the Kudzu. Kudzu is a horrid weed here.

Now, I'm watching patches of it.....lurking.....waiting.... I must make Kudzu Jelly!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: uses for flowers

good news that someone can use at least some of the kudzu. Our winters are (so far) too cold for it, but where it can tolerate the winters, it is one of the worst of the invasive exotics.
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applestar
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Re: uses for flowers

It's really hard to believe genuine pure kudzu root starch cost an arm and a leg.
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Lindsaylew82
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Re: uses for flowers

Our county extension is doing studies on kudzu free zones. Area where kudzu has been controlled. They also brought in kudzu bugs. They are so bad... You can't really wear anything light colored unless you want them all over you.
Lindsay
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applestar
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Re: uses for flowers

Maybe this should go in the herbal tea thread, but I'm drinking a big mug of ordinary twining green tea tea bag tea flavored with an entire fresh monarda blossom and four monarda leaves.

This is a little luxury I allow myself only when the monarda is in the first flush of bloom.

Normally, even when I deadhead, I wait until there are only 3 or less straggling flowers left on the spent blossom. Taking entire heads of flowers in full bloom seems so wrong.... :oops:

When I'm cutting the full flower heads, I'm mentality apologizing to the hummingbirds and the bumblebees LOL
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Re: uses for flowers

That's Bee Balm, right? Mine hasn't bloomed yet, but it's getting close. I had to replant this year. I lost a huge plant from this years winter harshness. I hear there is a purple cultivar out there, but mine has always been red. This year mine is strongly scented of minty sage. Much stronger than the one I had before.

Sometimes I steep them with chamomile tea or on their own. They are said to help with sleep issues. I've not used them in a satchel.

I've enjoyed it on fruit salads before, but this one I think is more savory.
Lindsay
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USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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rainbowgardener
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Re: uses for flowers

Not exactly flowers, but I'm just leaving work now and about to go home and make basil - mint ice cream! :D
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rainbowgardener
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Re: uses for flowers

basil mint ice cream is done and it is wonderful! Ice cream making is my new best thing.
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Re: uses for flowers

Yum! I'll be right over! :lol: :>
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