Flower essences are an absolutely beautiful ingredient used in cuisines across the globe that have a connection richly rooted in many cultures, history, traditions, story-telling, and medicinal properties.
If you wander the streets of the local market places around the world, you will more than likely find at least one food that has been touched by the grace of a flower essence.
I am the type of person that relates my memories in life to not only the sights or situations, but to the foods that were present. Flower essence reminds me of the lavender fields of France and their aromatic spice blends that flavor so many dishes, the street lined of roses in Morocco that you can taste in many desserts, the aguas frescas de Jaimaca, Hibiscus flower drink, that cooled me off in Mexico, the Orange-blossom rice that helped us celebrate the birthday’s of my numerous Persian friends, the elderflower compotes and jams in Europe that sweetened my morning breakfast, and the Jasmine teas with rose flavored Turkish Delight in Turkey. These are just a few of the long list of flower essence memories in my life; they hold a special place in my heart.
To cook with flower essences, keep in mind that the essential oils are way stronger than the flower waters. Too much extract can ruin your dish, so make sure to use with caution. Remember that the flower essence should add a delicate and beautiful layer, so try to showcase it in more simple dishes so that it doesn’t compete with powerful flavors that might end up overwhelming your palate.
Here are a list of 7 must try flower essences:
7. Orange Blossom
Used in a variety of Persian, Indian, Arabic, Turkish, and French dishes, this flower essence is a delicious flavoring for custards and puddings, cakes and cookies, candies and other confections. It complements vanilla, almond, cream, lemon and other citrus flavors.
Its delicate floral notes are perfect additions to Middle Eastern, Indian and Greek foods such as baklava or rice puddings and are wonderful accents to delicate French pastry glazes, creams, and madeleine, as well as British tea cakes. Rose Water can flavor sugars and cookies for tea time and can be served as a beverage in sweetened hot water, milk, and lemonades. Rose Water has an affinity for vanilla, cream, white chocolate, rice and mild cheeses such as Brie or cream cheese.
The aromatic bold yet slightly sweet floral flavor is best known to the world as part of the Herbs de Provence spice blend, which was actually made up by spice wholesalers in the 1970’s. This essence is quite strong so make sure to use sparingly. It goes well with savory dishes such meats, chicken and fish and is sometimes paired with sheep’s-milk and goat’s-milk cheeses as well as sweets such as custards, glazes, and syrups.
The magnificent and pungent flavor of this flower works well whole to decorate salads and stuffing, with edible beauty, or as an essence to grace savory dishes such as grilled meats and vegetables to sweets such as soufflés, cakes, syrups, jams, fruit salads, cakes, cookies, and scones.
This essence is vibrant, bitter, and full-bodied. It is found in teas, refreshing beverages and liquors around the world. In Mexico they make a refreshing agua de Jamaica, Hibiscus flower juice, as well as eaten dried and candied. This flower works perfectly in sorbets as well.
This beautiful and delicate essence is found in many Asian, Middle Eastern, and French dishes. Is most often used in puddings, scones, glazes, syrups and teas.
Fragrant and refreshing essence that is most common in French, Austrian and Central European cuisine. Traditionally used making simple syrups, compotes, jams, jellies, liquor, sodas, and refreshing beverages. Mercer Kitchen, a Jean-George restaurant in NYC makes a delicious Orange and Elderflower soda.
Wishing you a beautiful Spring!