Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Edible Flowers: the twelfth Fest, in 2012

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/07/20

This week included the third Thursday of July which, to me, meant it was once again time for the twelfth annual Edible Flowers Food Festival. Again, it was sponsored by the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Parks Department and the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County.

I try to contribute both edible flowers and time to help make this wonderful event a success. In past years, I’ve crawled around on the ground harvesting violets to save until mid-July. This year, the winter was so mild and early spring so warm that they came out several weeks early. I had thousands of buds just ready to open when a more-typical mid-spring freeze struck. The plants themselves came through that just fine, in the long run, but the flowers for this year did not.

Now, my garden was not the only one to suffer from that early-bloom killer-frost phenomenon. All the contributors to this event faced that, followed by severe heat and drought conditions this summer. So there was a good bit of menu-shuffling needed to make the dinner a success this year…. Luckily, my Rose of Sharon (shown) was in full bloom a bit early. Actually, it was already a bit past its bloom-peak: the photo shows how it looked on Thursday morning as I went out to harvest. Earlier in the week, there were probably three times as many blooms on it! Still, I managed to get around 200 good flowers which, at five petals per flower, meant that (after separating, cleaning, and selecting) I chipped in about a thousand petals for the salad dish. The second photo with this post shows a colander filled with well over 50 fresh blooms.

Just to be clear here: some flowers are edible, but many are not. Do check out any that you consider using! In fact, Rose of Sharon can be a tricky one, because that “common name” is actually used to identify several entirely different plants. What I have is the one most often referred to as Rose of Sharon in the USA: hibiscus syriacus. It is a member of the Genus Hibiscus, although it is misnamed in that it apparently does not come from Syria. Go figure. (Hibiscus is part of the Mallow (Malva) Family, which also contains plants as diverse as cacao, cotton, kola nuts, and okra.)

Though I’ve been interested in edible flowers for a long time, it’s only relatively recently that I found out my Rose of Sharon had petals that are edible. Apparently, various forms of hibiscus syriacus come in a range of both colors and mild flavors: I would not say mine have much flavor at all; but they are gorgeous and offer a satisfying bit of crunch, so they’re great when mixed, in small quantities, with other greens and flowers. The last photo with this post shows our vinegar-makers in the process of filling the small dressing-containers and adding them to the colorful salad bowls.

Before I sign off on this post, I thought you might be interested in the entire menu for the evening:

  • Lavender Lemonade
  • Rosey Zinger Iced Tea
  • Elder Flower Presse
  • Snack crackers with:
    • Edible Flowers Cream Cheese Spread
    • Tofu Spread with Nasturtiums
    • Lemon Verbena Jelly, Peach-Lavender Jam, and Rose Geranium Jelly
  • Green Gazpacho with Garlic Scapes, Roasted Red Pepper Puree, and Herbed Croutons
  • Spring Greens with Mixed Edible Flowers and Strawberry Rosemary Vinegar Dressing
  • Rice Paper Rolls of Nasturtiums & Vegetables with an Asian Dipping Sauce
  • Egg Salad with Redbud Flowers on Herbes de Provence Bread
  • Potato Salad with Dill Leaves and Flowers
  • Anise Hyssop Pizza with Mushrooms, Roasted Yellow Peppers, and Cheeses
  • Baked Fish with Lemon Thyme and Monarda Sauce
  • Roast Beef with Roses et Poivre
  • Chicken Mole with Rose Hips
  • Oven Roasted Green Beans with Onion Buds
  • Seasonal Fruit Salad with Lemon Verbena Lime Dressing
  • Chocolate Bark with Lavender, Pretzels, Caramel, and Sea Salt
  • Pound Cake with Monarda Glaze
  • And, of course, the Rose Petal Ice Cream that led to the Fest in the first place!!!

But now I guess I should get back to making (and writing about) small metal adornments….

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