Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tips and Ideas for Making Edible Flower and Herb Ice Cubes

Summer is almost here! In follow-on to our post about growing edible flowers in your home garden, here is a very simple way to fancy up your summer (or anytime) celebrations by adding edible flowers and herbs to ice cubes. It's very easy, but will your host/hostess-with-the-mostess beverage style to a whole new level of wow factor.  You can do it for looks, for flavour, or both and we've included some tasty ideas for beverages combos to get your imagination whirring.  

  • Select your edible flowers and/or fresh herbs (see ideas below on pairings).   Pick them fresh and clean them thoroughly. 
  • Prepare them for your ice cubes by separating the edible components for the flowers (will vary depending on which flowers you are choosing) and chopping any larger items into smaller pieces to suit your ice cube trays.  Size also depends on whether you intend to eat the add-ins or just use them for looks or infusing flavour.
  • Pour a very small/thin layer of water* into the base of your ice cube tray.  Place the fist layer of flower/herbs face down and freeze.  The add-ins will float, so this first little layer ensures that we have a pretty face on our ice cubes. 
  • Remove from the freezer and quickly add your next layer of flowers and a small amount of water before returning to freeze.  Repeat layering if/as needed until you are near the top of the tray.  
  • Place the final layer of flower/herbs face up with a small amount of water before returning to freeze.  Once frozen into position, top-off the tray with water and freeze until the ice cubes are completely solid before removing from trays for use.  
* For clearer ice, you can use distilled water, which has been boiled briefly and then chilled, but I'm not into buying water and although you can make distilled water at home I definitely can't be bothered with that for ice cubes.  Happy to live with some bubbles in my ice!  I use tap water, and chill the cup in the fridge between layers so it is less likely to melt and disturb my layering as new layers are added on top of the to the frozen bits.
No time for freezing layered cubes? You can also freeze with a single larger flower or just add flowers or herbs to your drinks along with plain ice cubes.  One of my favourite alternatives is also to freeze slices of citrus, berries (whole or sliced) or other frozen fruits instead of ice. Wash, slice or dice if needed (I remove any citrust seeds as well at this stage), and freeze as flat as single pieces, then combine into a container to store in your freezer so that they don't stick together. Easy peasy, and I can grab one anytime I like! It's the perfect way to chill a drink without watering things down.

Drink pairings and flavour combinations are only limited by your imagination and tastes.  Here are some ideas to inspire experimentation, and we have a growing board of edible flower recipes and tips on Pinterest for even more ideas on how to eat, drink, and experiment with edible flowers.

  • Most edible flowers will work with citrus beverages, like lemonade or lemon-lime and bitters. 
  • Flowery or green edible flowers (such as elderflower, roses, pansies, jasmine, violet, lavender, lilac) can vary significantly in strength of fragrance and flavour. Pansies and lightly scented rose petals can be used in almost anything without significant flavour shifts, but some can be quite strong making pairing choices and use in moderation more important.  Experiment with pairings in fruity drinks or with vodka, gin, or champagne cocktails. 
  • Peppery or spicy edible flowers (such as calendula, nasturtium) can be tricky to pair in beverages. Looks for strong flavours were they won't jar or dominate. Steer away from sweet drinks and experiment with spicy cocktail (or mocktail) recipes. Tomato-based drinks can often handle a splash of pepper or get creative with drinks that spice things up using pepper, cayenne, jalapeno, sriracha, or other zippy ingredients. Milder spicy-sweet flowers (such as dianthus, cornflower) are easier to pair than their peppery pals, offering more good looks than creating flavour shifts.
  • Tart edible flowers can meld into the flavours of zingy citrus beverages, like lemonade or margaritas.  Alternatively they can also balance and compliment sweeter beverages.  
  • Edible herb flowers will usually share a similar, sometimes slightly milder, flavour to the leaves of the herb plant. Either or both can be paired with beverages that suit the herb.  You can get really experimental and have some fun!  For the herb leaves themselves, there are wide range of different flavours to play with for pairings. Mints, lemon balm, and pineapple sage are a few easy to grow and easy to use herbs that can work well with many different pairing flavours.  Pineapple sage is one of my favourites - smells so good, and the pretty perennial plants grow so well here!  Subtlety minty edible flowers (such as violas, bee balm) will also go with anything you'd enjoy with a pop of refreshing minty flavour. 
  • Cucumber-flavoured blue borage flowers are a natural fit for cucumber cocktails/mocktails or just to pretty up a glass of cucumber water. Cucumber also pairs well with mints as well as many fruity flavours. Vodka and gin also make good pairings.
  • For unique cocktails and cocktails, recipes with floral syrups or floral liqueurs are a great for pairing inspiration. 

Like the pretty geometric coasters pictured in this post?  They're an easy DIY! See the how-to details at Creativity Unmasked. The drink pictured in the post is lemon-lime and bitters, light on the bitters.  It goes with just about anything and is a low-alcohol summer favourite.

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