Sunday, May 26, 2019

Eating wisteria flowers - an ephemeral treat


It seems a shame to let May go without looking back at the wonderful ways of wisteria blossom. North of us wisteria panicles are still dripping from wherever they twine. And at 1st Place, our last address, I found that pruning the rampant, ancient old vine there resulted in fresh blooms in July, so by all means hack back hard as soon as they have finished blooming if you would like to enjoy these perfumed flowers again in the sullen, hot days of late summer.

Wisteria sinensis is very invasive locally (it smothers and strangles trees and shrubs), and can be very aggressive. Which is good for foragers, since it has invaded our city forests. Native W. frutescens is slightly more laid back and a better choice if you would like to plant one at home.

Look in Forage, Harvest, Feast for these recipes. And if you happen to be one of the people who has left an Amazon review for the book, thank you very, very much! They really do help sales.


The recipe for this Concentrated Wisteria Syrup, above, is on page 441 of Forage, Harvest, Feast. It is very aromatic. I make syrup because I like to bake with it, and to make drinks:


...to wit: Like a julep, but I shook it up, instead. And there are black locust flowers in the background! Yes, they have their own book chapter, too.


Still julep-ing, and with wisteria ice cubes.


This is Misteria (my name for the plant when I was very small), page 442 - read all about it. Delicious with tart-sweet sumac sugar. That's another chapter... (but check out page 405).


Vinegar. Does anyone like vinegar as much as I do? I am lost without it. For slow cooking adobo-type dishes, for mixing low ABV drinks (the new mixology catch phrase: low alcohol by volume; last year they were mocktails), and for quick pickles. Salad dressing, of course. I have a quick vinegar method in FHF, but to ferment from scratch - very satisfying - follow the Common Milkweed Flower Vinegar method on page 98.


The vinegar is also very good for baking biscuits and Fluffy Wisteria Pancakes (page 444.)


I LOVE tahini with vinegar, as a vibrant, tongue-smacking, but creamy dressing. This chickpea salad is a riff on one I used to inhale at Anatoli on Sunday nights in long-ago Cape Town (made with giant white beans). It's really good with slivers of raw, red onion. Page 443.


This is made with summer wisteria. Basil's ready, real tomatoes are ripe (I always wait). Mint. Balsamic, salt. Hm, hm, hm


And to finish (especially on this hot, hot late May day and Memorial Day weekend), wisteria and Nigori sake popsicles. Page 443.

For grown ups. Or for loud children who need swift sedation.

Your choice.

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6 comments:

  1. I would never have thought of eating wisteria (and I when I was a kid I would taste any plant I could find, I scared my mother more than once). Sadly the one in our garden died back a few years ago and the season is over here in Switzerland.
    Is the taste as wonderful as the smell?
    And thank you!!!! It's because you talked about making vinegar that I now make my own. I couldn't go without it or go back to industrial stuff. I'm waiting for the one made with laurus nobilis flowers to be ready.

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    1. The flavor of the flowers is a little like sweet peas. The scent is captured very well in syrup and ferments. And of course your mother was right if the green parts worried her - those are considered toxic.

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  2. Well, i missed wisteria season in the spring - early April here - but cut (perhaps hacked is a better word!) it back heavily, so may get another chance to try some in the next couple of months.

    Question: can i treat black chokeberries like red ones? I'm going to have lots this year. thanks.

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  3. Wow, the popsicles look so yummy... yet too pretty to eat! :3

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  4. How beautiful are those wysteria flowers!! Did not know they were edible and the julep looks amazing!!

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  5. Wysteria is a lot like redbuds! https://myperfectplants.com/product/eastern-redbud/

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