My kitchen pansy has recently started blooming abundantly and in an effort to keep these happy flowers for a while longer, I decided to try and crystallize them. I’ve done this before with rose petals and it worked lovely, so I followed the same procedure with my pansies.
I daresay, if I did not have an over-zealous little 3-year old helping, I’d have had many more candied flowers than I actually ended up with. But it was good fun and a lovely learning exercise.
So how do you do it? The idea is simple – a wash of egg white and a sprinkle of castor sugar and time to dry.
Things to take note of:
1) Always make sure you use EDIBLE flowers, if you cannot identify the plant positively, rather don’t use it. Some flowers look really gorgeous on cakes and bakes, but are not to be consumed – I’d rather stay clear of the “what part of the cake can I or can’t I eat” scenario and only ever put things on a plate that you can put in your mouth.
2) Try as far possible to only use ORGANICALLY grown flowers. You never know what pesticides and other poisons commercial growers use, and even the best wash and rinse cannot always get rid of all the nasties. The best is to use flowers only from certified no-spray growers, your own garden or the organic produce isle in your local market.
3) Always RINSE your flowers because you only want to eat flowers at the end of the day and not hidden little bugs or their eggs.
So, are you ready to get started?
What do you need?
Let’s do it!
- Whisk egg white with a bit of water just until aerated.
- Lay flowers on baking sheets and paint with egg wash (get under all the petals and inside all the nooks)
- Sprinkle with a light dusting of castor sugar (I didn’t have castor sugar, so sent my normal sugar through my blender a few times, but this did not work as well as castor sugar would’ve… I would recommend getting castor sugar.).
- Repeat for the back of the flower / flower petal too.
TIP: use a toothpick to move the flowers around so that you don’t smudge all your hard work away when you need to turn it over.
- Let dry (under netting so that bugs and dust don’t get stuck on the sugar) – this can take up to 36 hours depending on your humidity. You can finish off the drying process in the oven on a VERY low temperature (around 50C) for a couple of hours too.
- Store in an airtight container for a few months (mine’s never lasted that long before I used them, but apparently it does keep well).
I’ve also heard of people dunking whole petals in the egg and then dredging it through the sugar… probably better suited to larger and more sturdy leaves. Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed the dainty painting-on.
Here’s one of my candied pansy flowers used on a vanilla cupcake which I decorated yellow and purple for the flower, as my daughter suggested.