If you’ve read my books or attended my presentations, you’ve probably heard this one by now. This method of storing freshly harvested, edible blossoms over the short term is a miracle worker and has completely altered my ability to keep and use them more effectively.
Garlic scapes are the immature, unopened flowers that form at the top of the plant’s leafy stalk in early summer. They have a delicate, garlic flavour and are much less potent than the bulb. In fact, I can’t eat much garlic raw or cooked, but I can devour garlic scapes aplenty with no stomach upset.
I’m not sure when I made the transition from rose-hater to rose-eater. These days I have several roses planted in my garden, most of which have been chosen specifically for their eat- and use-ability. All roses are edible, but only those that smell fragrant taste good. Scentless roses are flavourless.
I recently returned from a long trip to an explosion of fresh blooms specifically from the three climbing roses that are planted in front of my ramshackle shed. Two of the three were planted last season and are doing well, but the third, a beautifully scented orange and golden variety called ‘Westerland’ that is now in its third year here has gone absolutely gangbusters. I have been harvesting a generous basketful of fresh blooms every day since my return and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. Once this flush is done there will be at least one more smaller flush later in the season.
I preserve the blooms in several ways, but today I thought I’d share the quickest and easiest method: drying.
Among the recipes in my book, “Easy Growing: Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces” are three herb and edible flower infused spirits that I make each year from ingredients grown in my garden. Were more space available, I could have written an entire chapter on this exciting subject — narrowing it down to just three recipes was no easy task. Instead, I opted to throw in references throughout the book to those that are straightforward, including one in the section on Pinks aka Dianthus. Before I go on to the recipe, a little backstory…
This recipe came about on a weekend afternoon as I was puttering around in the garden weeding and thinning out crops that were too closely planted. Radishes were the main culprit. I don’t plant them in rows or in a dedicated space for that matter. Instead, I pop the seeds into gaps here, there, and everywhere. And then I forget where I planted them. Days later I plant some more. Or the squirrels dig them up and shift them too close to other plants. Or, like last year, I allow the crop to go rogue and now, in the spring, I find myself with loads of closely-packed plants.
But this is not a problem, because while the roots may be small, there are handfuls of lush greens that can be wilted, roasted, or fried. This is something I did not understand with my first unsuccessful attempts at growing radishes years ago. While the roots can be tricky if the soil is too dry or shallow, the prickly, hairy greens are very edible when cooked. In fact, they’re delicious!