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Help me eat and drink more flowers!
April 30, 2012 5:43 PM   Subscribe

I love food and drinks with floral flavors. How can I incorporate more delicious floral foods and beverages into my life?

Past favorites have included violet and rose hard candies; rosewater-flavored Turkish Delight; lavender lemonade; an Aviation cocktail with creme de violette; lavender honey; elderflower syrup from Ikea, and my new beloved, elderflower liqueur.

These have all generally been things that I have ordered in restaurants, bars, cafes, etc., or found while traveling. I am looking for suggestions as to how to experience these sorts of flavors more often in my own home. I am open to links to products that can be bought as well as recipes for food or drinks (alcoholic or non.)
posted by oblique red to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Many fresh and dried teas are floral, rose is popular and easy to find.
posted by The Whelk at 5:50 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This recipe for rose petal jelly looks close to something I've had before. It's very flowery, so if you like flower-flavored stuff, you'll most likely love it.
posted by xingcat at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2012


Also some groceries sell ediable flowers, not super flavorful, but excellent garnish.

Dandonlion greens have a herbal, greedy snap, clover makes a fine tea, but dandonlion tea is a dieuretic so be a bit careful.
posted by The Whelk at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2012


You do know that St. Germain can be bought at your local liquor store? Then you can make elderflower cocktails to your hearts content.
posted by karlos at 5:54 PM on April 30, 2012


Dry makes soda in juniper berry and lavender flavors. I can vouch for the lavender.
posted by freshwater at 5:55 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a ton of plants with edible flowers out there. Some of them are really common - violets, honeysuckle, geraniums. Fried squash blossoms don't really have a flowery taste, but they're yummy. Here's a list of some common edible flowers. Unfortunately I couldn't find a good list with pictures in a cursory search.
posted by mossicle at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2012


I have heard of success in using a combination fruit, tea, and dried edible flowers as vodka infusions but I haven't tried it myself.
posted by The Whelk at 5:59 PM on April 30, 2012


I think you need some Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, to add to champagne or sparkling wine. The change in the flavour of the wine depends on how much syrup you add to the glass, but when you've finished drinking, you get to eat the flower - and it's scrumdiddlyumptious, believe me.

(That link is to the US shop page. There are also links to Australian/NZ and European shop pages.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:03 PM on April 30, 2012


I bought some rosewater from my local indian shop recently. I pour a splash of it into water, milk, or yoghurt. I make quick lassis by blending some yoghurt, milk, sugar and the rosewater together.

I also have a bottle of elderflower syrup that I pour over vanilla ice cream in summer.
posted by lollusc at 6:07 PM on April 30, 2012


Hypothetically rose petals are edible. I can't confirm this because I've never eaten them, but my ex used to eat them at weddings and crap where they had them strewn on the tables.
posted by Heretical at 6:09 PM on April 30, 2012


I havent tried it yet but here is an easy recipe for: Lavender Lemonade.
posted by Captain_Science at 6:10 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been adding flowers to jams and marmalades lately, with pretty great results. The flowers go in a muslin bag that hangs out in the boiling liquid until it tastes sufficiently floral, then I fish it out (no flower detritus in the finished stuff). Favorites so far: Seville orange and lavender marmalade; tangerine and rose petal marmalade; apple and jasmine jelly; lemon and chamomile jelly; raspberry and hibiscus jam; plum and lavender jam. NOM.
posted by bewilderbeast at 6:14 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like an Italian cream soda with either rosewater or creme de violette:

Maybe start with an ounce of each, 1:1, cream or half-and-half and the rosewater or creme de violette. Put that in the bottom of a tall tumbler.

Ice about halfway up the glass on top of that.

Pour chilled sparkling water over and stir gently to mix. Taste. You can always add more of either the flavor or the cream -- I like my floral flavors fairly strong, but my friends say they taste like soap. Enjoy!
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:17 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rosewater Cookbook
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2012


You should be able to find rose jelly, rosewater, and rose-flavored Turkish delight in any Middle Eastern grocery.
posted by parudox at 6:22 PM on April 30, 2012


There are a lot of books out there to get more information. A simple search at Amazon turns up a vast amount. Some flowers, like squash or nasturtium, are more along the more savory variety. You can check in your local area, but I know there is a local organic supplier around here that provides edible flowers.
posted by annsunny at 6:24 PM on April 30, 2012


I fling edible flowers into salads (I usually have calendula, violets, chive blossoms), you can put edible flowers onto sandwiches - as a wee lass I read about rose petal and cream cheese sandwiches, the cheese should be very mild, but it is nice. I have a recipe for lavender shortbread somewhere, or I bet it's googleable. Indian food is good for flowery sweets, like the aforementioned rose lassi. Yum!
posted by thylacinthine at 6:27 PM on April 30, 2012


Oh, and orange blossom water, I got some from a Middle Eastern grocers, and splish it into rice puddings and cakes.
posted by thylacinthine at 6:27 PM on April 30, 2012


I love Ayala's Herbal Waters

No sweeteners--artificial or natural, just herb infused tastiness.

Lavender Mint, Lemongrass Mint Vanilla, Lemon Verbena Geranium is especially flowery. I like the Clove Cardamom Cinnamon.

I get them at my local Wegmans.
posted by vitabellosi at 6:28 PM on April 30, 2012


Also, hibiscus/flor de jamaica/red sorrel is tangy and delicious and easy to make at home (as well as the flowers in syrup malibustacey linked to) as a kind of iced tea or an agua fresca.

And if you like creme de violette, creme yvette is a berry and violet variation from the same guy that brought you St. Germain (it has a bit of vanilla in it too, which is from a flower)

finally, this edible Jasmine absolute from Aftelier perfumes can be incorporated into your cooking. I have had it in the foamy head of a gin and egg white cocktail and it is very, very sexy-smelling. You can get rose, geranium, and lavender from the same site- be forewarned though that a little goes a LONG way.
posted by zingiberene at 6:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a huge fan of this violet chewing gum. It says "scented" but I think it tastes violetish as well.
posted by jessamyn at 6:29 PM on April 30, 2012


Rosewater, carrot juice and milk: it tastes very similar to Thai Iced Tea, but is much better for your health. I use cold water brewed rose petals -- if you have a Mexican store with a spice rack near you, they will have a selection of wonderful flower teas to choose from.

Hibiscus flowers, beets and pomegranite juice makes a wonderful soup.
posted by effluvia at 6:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


use your fave florals to make an infused simple syrup. 1:1 sugar and water, add florals and simmer on the stove. then use your syrup to flavor everything from tea, to cocktails, to pastry & breads you bake. also, a similar idea is to infuse vodka or some other neutral spirit over time with florals and then use to make great cocktails.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 6:56 PM on April 30, 2012


quick sidebar - hibiscus and nasturtium are two of the only flowers with a TASTE I can think of, most flowers (as jessamyn noted with the violet chewing gum) have mostly aroma rather than taste, but then, aroma is the most important part of flavor! (The "taste" of say, violet, that you get in your mouth, is from smelling the violet aroma while you eat)

that's why floral essential oils (at least the edible ones) and vanilla extract, which have pretty much only aroma rather than taste compounds, work so well as sources for floral flavor.

for 2 more floral ingredients, vanilla sugar and vanilla salt are great to cook with.

I quite like St. Germain paired with Hendrick's gin, which is made with rose petals.
posted by zingiberene at 7:06 PM on April 30, 2012


Have you tried jasmine tea?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:08 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the alcoholic end of things, Crème de Violette is a lovely addition to older classic cocktails, including the well-loved Aviation.

It's not as explicitly floral, but many people find gewürztraminer (often called just gewurz) wine to be flowery smelling. If you like sweeter, try them from California, such as Fetzer, if you like dry, go for Alsace, France, such as Trimbach. As with most wine, a good merchant will be able to recommend one based on other wines you've enjoyed.
posted by wnissen at 7:10 PM on April 30, 2012


Some of my favorite uses for rosewater, which you should be able to find reasonably priced bottles of at any Middle Eastern or Indian grocery, or failing that, on Amazon:

Vanilla ice cream with a splash or two of rosewater and some ground (green) cardamom. Alternatively, get some rosewater ice cream from the Middle Eastern grocery or Whole Foods. Look for the Mashti Malone brand. If you want to get fancy and make some yourself, I've had success making my own semifreddo and using rosewater and cardamom or rosewater and pistachio as the flavoring.

You can also add rosewater in addition to or instead of vanilla in baked goods. I recommend using rosewater and vanilla together, since rosewater is such a delicate flavor/aroma. I like to make these with a couple of teaspoons of rosewater and ground cardamom. They're not too sweet, easy to make, and have a lovely mild flavor and aroma. Also tasty is this toasted almond cake with strawberries in rose-water syrup. It smells divine, and tastes amazing. Heck, don't bake the cake and just have the strawberries in rose water and whipped cream, they're delicious. I imagine you could make all sorts of delicious concoctions with the syrup that results from the macerated strawberries too.
posted by yasaman at 7:24 PM on April 30, 2012


Sauternes, Jurançon, and other botrytized white wines can have a very pronounced and delicious white flower/jasmine/elderflower flavor to them.
posted by zingiberene at 7:27 PM on April 30, 2012


At Christmas, I made my usual date balls (dates, sugar, coconut flakes, rice crispies basically) but added orange flower flower water and they were the best batch ever.

On preview, I see who is posting this question (hi, oblique!) and can say - I still have some orange flower water, so feel free to swing by the house some time and borrow the bottle!
posted by pointystick at 7:35 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rose geranium is an incredibly floral herb - it's easy to make a simple syrup (and from there, a sorbet or ice cream) by infusing the herb in sugar and water and cooking it down.
posted by judith at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2012


Japanese Flower Kiss Candies. (Here's a place selling them, but I can find 'em at our local Asian groceries.) They're a little floral in a, um, maybe rosewater-y way? (I do not know these flavors or their lingo well.) They're also sort of peach/apricot-y. And creamy. And good in general.

Lavender gelato or ice cream is really good. There's a lavender festival every year here in Corrales NM (on the edge of ABQ) and they do lavender cookies and other sweets and stuff.

Sometimes you can get honeys with different floral tastes to them depending on where the bees get their nectar from; local farmers markets sometimes have really good selections of these and sometimes they let you taste-test. They're good with tea, or as flavorings for things.
posted by NoraReed at 8:13 PM on April 30, 2012


This just came off the top of my head, but I bet mixing rosewater into a good Greek yogurt would taste amazing.
posted by threeants at 9:10 PM on April 30, 2012


While living in Switzerland, I loved what I remember as elderflower syrup ( homemade), which we mixed into water as a sort of cordial. It was transcendentally delicious from what I remember.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:27 PM on April 30, 2012


You can infuse pretty much any flower syrup into whipped cream to make any fancy dessert floral. My favorite brunch place has got pretty into orange flower whipped cream lately and I kind of think about it a lot.
posted by town of cats at 10:44 PM on April 30, 2012


Tang yuan (glutinous rice dumplings), served in sweeted jasmine tea. Traditionally they are served in ginger syrup (which may contain pandan leaves or osmanthus flowers, as in the linked recipe), but I had them in jasmine tea at a tea house in Hong Kong, and they were delicious. Stuffing the balls with black sesame is tedious and fiddly; alternatively, you can make non-stuffed glutinous rice balls or buy them pre made from your local Chinese or Southeast Asian grocer.

Lychees are delicious and very floral fruits; they taste surprisingly similar to elderflower syrup. They're in season during the summer and should be available in Asian markets in about a month, but you can buy them canned as well. Fresh, they're good straight; one way to eat the canned ones is in halo-halo (lychees, jackfruit, tapioca, and other random gelatinous things on top of ice cream or shaved ice with evaporated milk).

I find (fresh, in season) honeydew to also be somewhat floral. Try pureeing half of a big honeydew and mixing it with half a can of coconut milk (freeze the other half), 1 cup simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to water), and 1/3c small tapioca, cooked. Delicious. To lighten it, replace some of the coconut milk with cow milk.

I also love rice pudding with a bit of cardamom. Adding rosewater would make it even better.
posted by asphericalcow at 12:21 AM on May 1, 2012


If you're looking for floral cocktails and don't mind a bit of egg white, the Ramos Gin Fizz has orange flower water and is terrific. I've also added a touch of orange flower water to a French 75 or even to a regular old G&T with great success.

Orange flower water also works really well in baked goods. Try an orange flower water and white chocolate cake.
posted by House of Leaves of Grass at 3:56 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Additionally, if you live near any wild violets, you can candy them or eat them raw.
posted by House of Leaves of Grass at 4:00 AM on May 1, 2012


There are many Indian desserts that use rosewater to varying degrees, so that's one avenue to pursue (you should be able to get the rosewater online or in an Asian grocery). Also, a lot of better bubble tea places have tea jellies, which are a sort of softish jello made with teas (jasmine is my personal favorite), so you could look into making those yourself. mmmmm, great question!
posted by acm at 8:13 AM on May 1, 2012


Add a teaspoon of rosewater to shortbread cookie dough.

For god's sake don't eat strange rose petals found on tables at weddings, they're grown with a ton of pesticides.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is my favorite use of orange blossom water. So good. The perfume smell at the end is amazing.

Plum Soup
From Vegetarian Cooking for Everybody by Deborah Madison

2 lbs very ripe purple plums
2 large pieces orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/3 to 1/2 cup mild honey to taste
1/2 cup buttermilk
orange flower water (my favorite's A. Monteaux's, but he retired recently, alas :( )
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
fresh mint leaves

Leave very small plums whole and cut larger ones roughly in half. Don't worry about removing the pits. Put them in a pot with the orange zest and juice, spices, and 1/3 cup honey. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the flesh easily falls away from the pit, about 30 minutes. Transfer the plums to a food mill set over a bowl and begin to turn it. It will grate against the pits and loosen the flesh. Pick out the pits, cinnamon stick, and cloves with your fingers as you come across them and continue to work the plums through, skins and all. Whisk the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon orange flower water into the plum puree and chill. When the soup is cold, stir in the vinegar; taste again and correct the seasonings, adding more spice, honey, or orange flower water if needed. Garnish with the mint leaves and serve.

Plum Soup with Wine: Use 1/2 cup orange muscat wine or Japanese plum wine in place of the orange juice and add 1 or 2 drops of orange oil, if available, to the soup.

Bicolored Plum Soup: Add the buttermilk to half the soup. Using two ladles simultaneously, pour some of each into the soup bowls. Passing a knife in a zigzag fashion through the lines where the two soups meet makes fancy-looking but easy-to-make swirls.

Honey Madeleines
Lavender Lemon Shortbread
Honey Lavender Ice Cream
Lavender Brownies (Homesick Texan also has a recipe for lemon lavender poundcake IIRC from her book...couldn't find it on a cursory search of her blog, but it might be there and I missed it)

My favorite ice cream/gelato ever is rosewater saffron and pistachio. There are probably recipes online for it; I've only ever had it in Middle Eastern restaurants. So good.

As a garnish, fresh or candied violets or other edible flowers are good on salads and cakes. You can usually find them at places like Fresh Market or sometimes your farmers market.

Honey Lavender Syrup in general is good for both cocktails and glazing baked goods/saucing desserts. Which reminds, that's the standard way to make floral cocktails, by infusing simple syrup while still warm (let it steep about 30 minutes) and storing and using as needed. Other options include using a dash or two of floral bitters while stirring/shaking drinks (there are various ones available through places like CocktailKingdom, KegWorks, etc.) or muddling with some syrup, sugar, or other liquid before adding the rest of your cocktail ingredients and shaking/stirring.
posted by ifjuly at 6:19 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and recipes for Jamaican sorrel tea/hibiscus/Mexican jamaica agua fresca abound online, if you've ever had that at a taqueria or something. You can get the dried hibiscus flowers online or at certain supermarkets, usually in the natural foods or produce section.
posted by ifjuly at 6:21 AM on May 2, 2012


If you decide you're digging St. Germain, this cocktail recipe blog bartender Jamie Boudreau threw together years ago is excellent, by the way.

Agreed wholeheartedly about the Ramos Gin Fizz; it's my favorite alcoholic use of orange blossom water. Really wonderful.

Creme de Violette/Creme Yvette is really syrupy sweet, as a warning--a little goes a long way. That's true of St. Germain too--so true most cocktails with it simply use it in place of the sugar syrup!--but somehow the St. Germain blends/plays better with other flavors; it's brighter and less medicinal/distinct tasting. Just a heads up.
posted by ifjuly at 6:24 AM on May 2, 2012


And for a champagne cocktail variation, you could use floral bitters on top of the sugarcube before topping with champagne. Sorry, I keep forgetting stuff!
posted by ifjuly at 6:27 AM on May 2, 2012


oh, I forgot about this:

Creme Brulee French Toast with Orange Blossom Water
From In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark

1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons orange blossom (flower) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (10-ounce) French baguette, sliced diagonally, 1 inch thick (about 20 slices) (or 4-5 slices of challah or other bread)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk together the brown sugar and butter until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into a large rimmed baking sheet (11 x 17).

2. In a pie pan or other shallow dish, combine the eggs, milk, orange juice, orange blossom water, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Coat both sides of the bread slices in the egg mixture, letting the bread soak up the custard for a minute or two on each side, until saturated but not falling apart. Place the soaked slices on the prepared baking sheet over the brown sugar mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops of the bread are golden brown and the sugar is bubbling.

3. Serve immediately while still hot, with the crunchy brown sugar side up.
posted by ifjuly at 8:37 AM on May 2, 2012


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