Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crystallized Pansies

My pansies were on their last leg when my neighbor came over the other day.  She looked at them and informed me, "you know, you can eat those."  this definitely got the gears turning.  I recall reading about preserving spring flowers.  Preserving flowers whether dried or pressed is fairly popular here.  There are many homes with framed pressed flowers from the area.  But edible and preserved?! Yes!  In one of my many cookbooks, 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking' the author explains how to crystallize flowers using sugar and egg white.  They are used to decorate pastries and cookies and, are completely edible. I did a quick search online and found out that to purchase 3 dozen crystallized pansies, it cost me around $40.  NOT CHEAP! If not anything else, making them myself would be cheaper.

So here's my updated recipe to crystallizing pansies:

  • Dry pansies (It's important to pick them on a dry day or, pick them and sit them overnight in a vase)
  • One egg white
  • Bakers sugar or regular sugar that's been grinded up fine in a food processor
  • a splash of vodka (optional but it serves to help dry the flowers quickly)
  • soft paintbrush about a standard watercolor size
  • baking sheet lined with wax paper
  • a small strainer to be used as a sugar sprinkler.  I used my reusable tea strainer from Ikea
  • scissors

  1. Mix egg white and vodka in a bowl.
  2. Prepare your work space. Assemply line style or, egg white bowl with pain brush, flowers in vase, sugar with "sprinkler", lined baking sheet.
  3. Snip stem off as closely to the bloom as possible
  4. Using the paint brush dipped in egg white vodka mixture, brush every inch of the flower (front and back of each petal) with the mixture.
  5. Sprinkle sugar all over the flower as well. Front and back.
  6. Place flower gently on lined baking sheet
  7. Repeat with all the flowers.  After about 3 days the flowers should be dry.

Place them in a loosely packed box.  A shoe box is good for this.  Be sure that the box doesn't seal.  They should be preserved for about 6 months.
Your family and friends will be really impressed!  It's takes some work and patience and you may have some duds....but, they look gorgeous on top of cupcakes.  I used mine on homemade lemon cupcakes with a lavender frosting.  So Victorian & British!

If you don't have the patience to do this, be sure to "harvest" your pansies and put them in your salad for a change of pace. Apparently they can be used in tea as well.  For more information on home remedies and the health benefits of pansies click here.

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