A few years back, I was a member of a CSA share that regularly included edible flowers in with the lettuces, tomatoes, and zucchini. While I was charmed by the presence of these flowers, I was always flummoxed when it came to actually using them. If only Miche Bacher’s new book, Cooking with Flowers had been around then. I would have done so much more with those tasty blooms.
Organized by variety of flower, each section begins with details about the particular blossom being featured. Then come the recipes, which manage to straddle the line between being appealing new and still familiar enough to get the old salivary glands working (for instances, how about a scoop of Lilac Sorbet).
As a preserver, I’m particularly interested in the ways that flowers can enhance my preserves. I often used dried lavender buds in jams and jellies to add a floral note, but now I’m contemplating the ways that lilac, nasturtium, and rose petals could improve or add interest to my basic sweet spreads. Makes the mind boggle a little, doesn’t it?
Thanks to the nice folks at Quirk Books, I have two treats to share from this book today. First is a giveaway of a copy. Here’s how to enter.
- Leave a comment on this post and tell me about a time you ate a flower. Could be at as a garnish on sculpted white rice or the time when you were six and learned that guava flowers were delicious (true story).
- Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
- Giveaway open to U.S. resident only.
- One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
The second treat is a recipe for Dandelion Jam. It’s a recipe that was originally intended to go in the book, but because of space constraints, was cut from the volume. However, Eric from Quirk knows I happen to have a thing for jams and so asked if I’d like to feature the recipe here. I said yes and here we are.
I’ve not made this jam, but having read the recipe, I do believe it should work. For a preserve like this one, cooking it up to 220 degrees F will improve your chances of getting a good set from it. Also, do note that while it instructs you to put the finished jam in sterilized jars and seal them, it also requires that you store them in the fridge. This is because the jam doesn’t have the proper acidity for boiling water bath canning.
- 8 cups water
- 4 cups dandelion blossoms
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 (1 3/4-ounce) package powdered fruit pectin
- 5 1/2 cups sugar
- Pour the water into a large saucepan and add dandelion blossoms. Bring mixture to a boil and continue boiling for about 5 minutes, or until water turns yellow.
- Pour the resulting tea through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing the flowers to get as much of the color and flavor through the strainer as you can. Discard blossoms.
- Place 3 cups of the tea in a medium saucepan and add lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar and boil for 10 minutes, or until sugar dissolves.
- Pour mixture into sterilized half-pint jars and seal. Store refrigerated for up to 2 months.
Where to Find Dandelions: This extremely hardy perennial grows best in well-drained sunny spots, and foraging for it couldn’t be easier. When harvesting dandelions, make sure you choose a spot in an organic lawn that’s far from a road, parking lot, or other possible contaminants. If you really want dandelions next year, make a game of it: invite a child or a friend to pick a puffball and blow, blow, blow!
One of the best things about cooking with dandelions is that to do it, you have to spend some time gathering blossoms. You’ll know the time outdoors was well spent when the taste of spring bursts forth from your jam or muffins.