Did you know you can eat magnolia petals? Magnolia syrup is an interesting floral syrup with strong ginger tones. It’s a great way to capture the essence of these fleeting spring flowers.
As we’re in prime magnolia season right now, I thought I’d give you a slightly different spring recipe to see March out. I do like cooking with foraged ingredients, whether that be out in the woods and fields or in the garden. It’s surprising how many garden flowers are edible. Magnolias, which are amongst the oldest flowering plants, are one of them. If you pick blossoms, always ask permission first if the tree isn’t yours.
Can you Eat Magnolia Flowers?
Well, you’ve probably gathered by now that indeed you can eat magnolia blossoms. Or at least the petals. The base of the flower is bitter and best removed before you down it. In fact magnolia flowers have been eaten in China for millennia. They’re said to have medicinal properties, but I’m no expert, so I won’t say any more about that.
Recently, as in yesterday, I spotted a post on how to pickle magnolia blossoms at Kavey Eats. I can’t tell you how excited I am by this idea. As soon as I saw it I dashed straight to CT saying “I didn’t know magnolia blossoms were edible”. He shrugged nonchalantly and said, “yeah, of course”. Honestly, what else hasn’t he told me in all these years?
We have a Magnolia x loebneri growing in the garden and it’s beautiful. Every year it flowers prolifically. Sadly, this year has been so windy, the blossoms are blowing off nearly as fast as they’re forming. So it seemed like a good time to harvest some of them and try out a recipe or two. Even though the petals on this one aren’t particularly fleshy.
One of the best edible species is meant to be Magnolia x soulangeana. So if you have one of those, it’s a good one with which to start your edible magnolia journey. Magnolia grandiflora is another and it just so happens we have one of those in the garden too. So I’m looking forward to trying a flower when one comes into bloom. They bloom infrequently and sparsely in my experience.
As well as the magnolia syrup, we also pickled some of the petals. Turns out they’re really good and we shall be making them again. They look and taste a little like Japanese pickled ginger. They’d be great with sushi although we found they make a lovely accompaniment to bread and cheese.
What do Magnolia Blossoms Taste Like?
The flavour of magnolia petals is really interesting. They don’t smell of ginger, but ginger is the first flavour to hit your tastebuds. In fact our magnolia flowers don’t really smell of anything, which is why the taste is so surprising when you eat one.
Following the ginger comes a slight floral test. And in some cases there’s a hint of bitterness.
In addition to pickles and syrup, you can add fresh magnolia petals to salads, sandwiches or stir fries.
Over the years, I’ve made rose, lilac, elderflower and now magnolia syrup. Out of all of them lilac was my least favourite and I wouldn’t bother ever making that again. But although rose will forever remain my favourite and is the most useful, I’m pretty sure I shall make some magnolia again next year.
I based my magnolia syrup recipe on the rose syrup recipe I make every year. I use it in any number of ways. Head over to the post to find out what some of these are. It’s incredibly easy to make and if you keep it in the fridge, it will last ages.
If you want to try making magnolia syrup, I suggest you make just a small amount, in case you don’t like it. The recipe below produces 250ml of sweet syrup. You can always make a larger quantity once you’ve established you like it.
The first thing you need to do is remove the petals from the central ovaries with their attached stamens. This part is bitter and will spoil the syrup. I picked 25g of blossoms which gave me 20g of petals. Then it’s just a simple process of dissolving sugar in water and simmering the petals in it for twenty minutes or so. In fact, it’s exactly the same method as for my rose syrup.
I use golden caster sugar for this recipe. But if you’d prefer a lighter colour use white sugar instead. Granulated or caster are both fine.
You can use the magnolia syrup as a cordial. Just dilute it in cold, hot or fizzy water to taste. You can also use it in cakes, whip it up with some cream or simply pour over ice-cream or pancakes. In fact, it makes quite a nice gingery substitute.
It keeps well in the fridge for up to a year and it freezes well too. To freeze, either pour into a plastic drink bottle or for smaller quantities use an ice cube tray. As soon as the syrup is frozen, remove from the tray and place the cubes in a plastic bag.
Other Floral Recipes You Might Like
- Chocolate Easter cupcakes with crystallised flowers
- Chocolate lavender cake
- Dandelion honey
- Lavender honey cake with honey cream cheese icing
- Rose cupcakes
- Rhubarb fairy cakes with edible flowers
- Rhubarb and rose polenta cake
For plenty more ideas head over to my floral recipes board on Pinterest
Magnolia Syrup. PIN IT.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this magnolia syrup, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Indeed if you’ve ever made anything with magnolia flowers I’d be interested. And do please rate the recipe. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
Magnolia Syrup – The Recipe
- 25 g magnolia flowers - unsprayed petals alone weigh 20g
- 150 g golden granulated or golden caster sugar
- 150 ml water
- Strip the petals from the ovaries at the base.
- Place sugar and water in a pan and place over a low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Add the magnolia petals and leave uncovered to barely simmer for twenty minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a sieve into a sterilised bottle. Seal and leave to cool.
I’m sharing this magnolia syrup with Recipes Made Easy for #CookBlogShare.