I’ve been so taken with the summer trend of using flowers in food, I feel a bit sad that salad season is almost over. The vivid colours and peppery notes of flavour have brightened many a meal for me this season.
There is a way to keep using these dainty delights though, and it’s probably in your garden right this minute.
Yes the humble viola mainstay of many a patio pot and a bright little face to cheer the days as winter draws in, is also a diamond when it comes to culinary delight. They can be used to give a delicate flavour to many recipes, and look absolutely delightful. Take care which variety you choose though, since not all are edible. The most common edible ones are Viola Cornuta, Viola x wittrockiana and Viola tricolor .
As well as adding a pretty zing to your favourite dishes, Violas also work beautifully when crystallised. It’s incredibly simple to do and makes the humblest of cakes look like a work of art. I use this method which features on the BBC Food website.
- In a small bowl, stir together the egg white and water. Grasp the petals with a pair of tweezers and carefully brush the egg mixture onto the petals, lightly coating both sides.
- In another bowl, toss the petals with the sugar and transfer to a rack. Allow the petals to dry at least 6 hours, longer if necessary.
I find using a flat paintbrush gives me a more even finish. The main thing is to pick flowers that are at their best. Any little nicks or blemishes will be more obvious after crystallisation. It’s a lovely way to cheer up a grey afternoon!