By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Horticulturist
Angelo's passion for plants has led him to explore many areas of horticulture including research, grounds management, technical training, design and nursery management.
Floral Ice Cubes: An Easy Way to Bring the Garden Indoors
So much of what we eat are flowers. Broccoli is a head of tiny flowers, same for cauliflowers, and artichokes. Cultures from as far back as 3000 BCE recognized the nutritional value and pleasure of eating flowers. Records and oral histories trace their use from ancient Rome to China’s Shen Nung Dynasty, to the cultures of Turtle Island/North America before contact with Europe. Working with flowers is a very grounding, connecting experience. Luckily the ways to work with flowers is as wide as the imagination.
Below I’ve described one way you can create something unique with your edible flowers by making DIY floral ice cubes to float in drinks or use as accent pieces. It’s quite simple to do and a beautiful addition to a nice cool beverage. Let’s get started.
How To Make Floral Ice Cubes
There are only 3 things needed to make edible flower ice cubes:
- Ice cube trays or another suitable container
- Edible flowers
Water: Water straight out of the tap will make ice cubes that are cloudy. Use filtered or distilled water for the best taste and clarity of your cubes. Boiling the water first and letting it cool before filling your trays will show more definition to your flowers, but this step is not necessary. Your ice cubes will still show plenty of artistic detail.
Trays: Flexible silicone trays work well for easy cube removal. There are many sizes and shapes to choose from but be sure to match the size of the container to the size of the flowers you plan on using.
Edible Flowers: There are lots of choices when it comes to edible flowers. A few of my favorites are violas/pansies, lavender, mints, nasturtiums, marigolds/calendulas, clover, dandelions, and bee balm.
First, make sure the flowers you collect are edible. Edible flowers are abundant, and some wildflowers (often considered weeds) can be found growing in your flower beds and lawn.
Another option is to go foraging and collect them from fields. Do not collect flowers along roadsides where they have been exposed to car exhaust fumes. Cultivated pansies and violas (often sold as Johnny Jump Ups) are available from farmers' markets and natural food stores as well as a selection of herbs. Only use organically grown flowers.
Collect flowers right before making your cubes or store them for a short time in your fridge until you are ready.
Making the Ice Cubes
Double-check your flower selections for signs of wilt or insect damage. Gently rinse them to remove any dirt or debris. Pour a few drops of water in your tray and position your flowers face-down or try alternating some face-down and some face-up Experiment to see which way you prefer. Once frozen, they are ready to use.
Tips for Your Floral Ice Cubes
Use within the first few weeks. Select your flowers to match where you will be using them and any potential theme. Use cubes with herbs such as mints and rosemary for iced herbal teas. Spearmint cubes are attractive in drinks such as mint juleps. Use them for special events such as weddings, showers, birthdays or garden parties.
Berries As An Ornament To Your Ice Cubes
My favorites are blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Berries are a good choice during months when flowers are not available.
Experiment with other plants to create lasting impressions beyond edibles. This could include colorful flowers or leaves from trees and shrubs. I’ve made ice cubes using small leaves from red Japanese maples and their attractive “helicopters” during gatherings or to decorate areas for special events around table settings. Make sure that your guests know that these are for decoration only.
Consider adding edible flowers to your landscape by incorporating them into your garden design. This way, you will have easy access to edible flowers for any occasion. While you’re at it, take advantage of the many other uses for edible flowers. Use them to decorate cakes, spruce up salads, make herbal teas, in baking recipes, make jams and jellies, or to simply create an attractive floral background.
No matter what you harvest from your garden, if you intend to consume it, make sure you protect your harvest and yourself by using organic pesticides that are safe for people, pets and planet. Earth’s Ally 3-in-1 Plant Spray leaves no harmful residue on plants and can be safely sprayed on herbs and vegetables up until the day of harvest.
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