Tree to Table: The Lots Of Ways to Take Pleasure In Magnolias

When magnolia buds start to swell, their petals splitting tight cases of protective winter season velour, spring starts to seem like a safe bet. In cities throughout The United States and Canada, Asian magnolias are the metropolitan precursors of spring’s relief, flowering when a touch of frost can still singe their flowers’ smooth edges. Farmers markets still bring the previous season’s fruit and vegetables (unless it’s greenhouse-grown). Even regional rhubarb is a month or more from harvest. Seasonal eaters wish for something fresh, and vibrantly tasty. So concern your magnolia tree– it is an unanticipated source of taste. Magnolia buds and petals are edible; they taste like a breath of cardamom-scented ginger, with a whisper of cloves, and, often, camphor. They can be consumed raw or prepared, and protected in sugar, vinegar, and booze.

Here are a few of the methods I utilize magnolia flowers in my kitchen area, with suggestions, techniques, and a hearty spring dish.

Photography by Marie Viljoen

Above: Magnolias breaking bud.

The spicy, complex taste profile of magnolia buds and flowers makes them extremely flexible and motivating as a component. They can be utilized fresh, or dried. Magnolias instill warming winter season toddies, summer season syrups, and sweltering curries; magnolia buds can be marinaded, or their fragrant petals captured in sugar and salt. (And yes, native North American magnolias, which flower in summer season, can be utilized the very same method. Read our previous story about edible Magnolia grandiflora.)

Above: With a texture like smooth endive and a gingery kick, magnolia petals are a powerful active ingredient.
Above: New buds, still sheathed in their bud scales.
Above: Full-blown magnolias, about to be covered in layers of sugar, which they fragrance.

Above: After a week in sugar, get rid of magnolia petals, and keep the moist, aromatic sugar in the refrigerator.
Above: Magnolias turning gewurztraminer vinegar rosy (with a spoonful of magnolia sugar included).
Above: Since they oxidize rapidly, keep magnolias immersed by utilizing pickle pebbles (store-bought or beach-combed).

When dealing with magnolia petals you’ll find that they oxidize, their cut ends turning sepia rapidly. If utilizing them fresh as a garnish, cut them right before you require them, and when instilling or marinading, keep them immersed listed below the liquid to hold their color.

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