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edible flowers

We have always made ice creams and sorbets with roses but never until this year’s magnificent season have we been able to make them without adding either the less expensive rosewater or the more expensive distilled rose essence. This year perhaps because of the very kind season the roses have been utterly magnificent and have had the most incredible perfume. Some roses are of course more fragrant than others but we have always loved Mr Lincoln for our rose petal ice cream and this year thanks to a gift from a friend have discovered that the David Austen Abraham Darby roses are also exquisitely and delicately perfumed.
Orange blossom has also been so prolific this year we have had no difficulty in convincing friends to give us some secure in the knowledge that their trees could not possibly support the amount of fruit should it set. Making sorbets and ice creams from blossom, in fact any dessert from blossom that might ultimately produce fruit or nuts is always something of a sacrifice making the end result even more exotic and precious.

Rose Petal Ice Cream
makes approximately 600 ml

500g thickened cream
5 extra large (61g) egg yolks
110g caster sugar
200g dark red and pink fragrant rose petals
10–20 g rosewater depending on how much fragrance has been extracted from the rose petals

Put the cream into a large microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes. In the mean time in a blender, MyCook or Thermomix puree the egg yolks, sugar and rose petals. Immediately the cream has boiled, whisk it into the egg yolk/sugar, return it to the microwave safe bowl and microwave it on medium low for 1 minute. Whisk, allow to stand for 15 minutes to further infuse the roses, strain and taste, then add the rosewater until you have an intense rose flavour.

Rose Petal Sorbet
makes approximately 600 ml

500g spring water
250g caster sugar
75g fragrant rose petals, rinsed under cold running water – Abraham Darby David Austen roses are gorgeous and will give the most delicate pale pink colour to the sorbet
20g fresh strained lemon juice

Put the water and sugar into a saucepan and place it on high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and immediately the syrup boils remove from the heat. Chill completely then puree the rose petals in some of the syrup and then return them to the mass and allow to stand for at least one hour to fully infuse the syrup.
Strain off the petals through a fine sieve pressing hard against them to extract as much flavour as possible. Stir through the lemon juice and churn.

tip — most sorbets are best churned and used within 24 hours. Put them on a shelf in your freezer rather than the refrigeration element where it will be colder and they may go icy. The good thing is that unlike ice creams with egg content it is relatively safe to melt (best overnight in the fridge) and re–churn sorbets. Of course, sorbet or ice cream is always at it’s very best taken straight from the churn but sometimes it is just not logistically possible!

Crystalising rose petals is easy all you need is a soft paintbrush, some egg white and fine caster sugar. Cover a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper. Put an egg white in a cup and some caster sugar in a bowl. Put a petal on a plate and brush it sparingly on both sides with egg white and then press it on both sides into the sugar. Dry in a low oven 60°c over night. Store carefully in airtight containers lined with paper towel to cushion movement. They are very fragile and break easily.

tips — there is a wide range of flowers that crystalise well. Orange blossom tastes delicious and fuschia flowers, whilst they do not really have flavour they add colour and look very pretty.
In winter try making both of these recipes with violets but be prepared to spend at least two full days picking them to gather enough to make a small quantity of both the ice cream and sorbet and some crystalised violets for garnish.

Orange Blossom Syrup
makes about 1L

200g orange blossoms
1kg spring water
1kg caster sugar

Put the orange blossoms in the water and push them under. Cover tightly with plastic food wrap and leave at room temperature for at least 10 hours. Remove the plastic, add the sugar and simmer very gently until you have a light syrup consistency. Allow to cool a little and cover with plastic again and leave at room temperature for another 10 hours. The blossom can be left in the syrup but if you want to keep the syrup for a long time it is best strained off.

Wild Violet Jelly – three day process
200g water
small handful of wild violets, about 30
5g gold leaf gelatine
50g Moscato

Weight the water into a take–away, add the violets and cover with a lid. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours and refrigerate for at least another 24 hours. Remove the violets and take off all the petals. Put the violet water and petals into a blender and blend. Strain through a fine sieve.
Oil a mould with almond or apricot oil. Heat half of the violet water, soften the gelatine in cold water and stir in to the heated violet water. Allow o cool a little then stir in the remaining violet water and the Moscato. Set in the prepared mould.

We cut the jelly into small cubes and serve it on and around ice cream. They look like jewels that have been scattered on the plate.

Zucchini flowers have become commonplace on menus where as once like asparagus they had a brief and celebrated season but home grown zucchini or pumpkin flowers filled and fried in a light tempura style batter or steamed and served with a fresh herb vinaigrette are truly wonderful.
One of our favourites is to batter and fry our parsley flowers when they go to seed. They turn into perfect pom–poms and dipped into good mayonnaise are a bit of fun. Garlic, dill and fennel flowers have powerful flavours but can be treated in the same way.

Much more of this come summer when we all have pumpkin and zucchini flowers to spare!

Peonie roses have a subtle and delicate perfume and make an exquisite ice cream or sorbet; or you might like to add a handful of sweet peas to the equation!

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.