These three shrubs are often associated with pioneer gardens and cottage gardens – largely in part because of the edible blooms that added something of value to the kitchen.
Roses for Tea, Salads and Gourmet Dishes
Fragrant roses have always been enjoyed in cottage gardens and while many gardeners may have heard of “rose-hip jelly”, they may not be aware that rose petals are also edible. Most cooks agree that the darker red and pink roses taste best and have a stronger flavor in cooking. Whenever cooking with rose petals, gardeners should be sure to cut the white ends of the petals off because that part is bitter.
The most common way to use rose petals in the kitchen is to brew them in a tea. A cup of fresh rose petals can be boiled in a small pot of water to create a tea flavored slightly of apples or strawberries. However, gardeners experimenting in the kitchen with edible flowers are certainly not limited to just flavored teas when it comes to using roses for cooking.
A brief search for rose recipes found many uses for rose petals including soup, flavored vinegar, rose petal pasta pesto and even rose petal champagne.
An easy recipe to put together is a rose petal fruit salad:
-3-4 Cups mixed berries (try blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, pineapples, or other favorite fruit chunks)
-1/4 Cup chopped rose petals
Garnish with de-stemmed Johnny-jump-ups, a perennial edible flower and serve chilled.
Lilac for Fragrant Food Accents
One of the first fragrant shrubs to flower bloom in the spring, lilac bushes have attractive, highly-scented flowers. While the taste of lilac flowers tends to be stronger than most roses, they make gourmet garnishes in salads and teas, and have been used historically to flavor wines. Lilacs are easy to grow in most garden areas and are attractive screen hedges.
Hibiscus for Tropical Color in the Kitchen
Hibiscus flower petals are also edible and have been used for centuries to brew a tart, strawberry-raspberry flavored tea. The hibiscus shrub gardeners should grow to enjoy their own blooming victory garden is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Some traditional dishes use hibiscus petals (cooks should be sure to cut out the reproductive center and pollen producing bits) sauteed in butter or oil and added to vegetable dishes. Also use hibiscus to flavor, and brightly color, teas, wines, and other cocktails.
With the renaissance of the victory garden, many gardeners are looking for ornamental shrubs that are also edible. Gardeners should remember to avoid pesticide and other chemicals near plants that are intended for eating.
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