ELYSIAN’s guide to using flora in the kitchen
By Jenna Realmuto
Borage blossoms, known as starflowers, have leaves that taste slightly of cucumber and blue triangular petals that off er a slightly sweet honey-like flavor. Borage can have its leaves brewed into a light, refreshing tea or its petals frozen inside ice cubes for a whimsical way to sweeten summer drinks. Most commonly grown to produce borage oil, this medicinal flowering herb is said to relieve skin inflammation and reduce stress.
Care: Plant starflowers in well-drained soil with a medium pH. Considered a low-maintenance plant, they can be planted indoors or outdoors but prefer full sun. Trim occasionally to keep the plant upright.
Hibiscus flowers are commonly used in beverages; syrup-aged hibiscus flowers are a popular cocktail garnish. Known for its tart flavor similar to cranberry and high Vitamin C content, hibiscus is most often used for brewing teas, but some culinary visionaries use dried petals as an herb or candy them into a sweet treat or striking garnish.
Care: Hibiscus flowers most often thrive in tropical climates. Some breeds will thrive better in temperate climates. It enjoys rich, moist soil and full sunlight. Depending on the varietal, it may bloom in midsummer, while others bloom in August and September.
In spite of their strong aroma, rose petals have a delicate, fruity taste. Rose water, its most common culinary derivative, is frequently used in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines, while rose syrup is common in traditional French cooking. It can also be made into jams or teas.
Care: Plant your rosebush in rich, well-drained soil, where it receives six hours of full sunlight per day. Carefully monitor growth because roses are at an increased risk for disease and infestation. Adding a layer of organic mulch atop the soil can help prevent this. Avoid heavy chemicals to ensure edibility.
Lavender brings an aromatic, floral flavor as a more subtle version of rosemary. Used to amplify both sweet and savory, it pairs especially well with chocolate. Th e buds are used to make marshmallows or infused into sugar for baked goods. Lavender teas and essential oils are widely used for their calming effects.
Care: Plant lavender in well-drained soil where it receives six hours of full sun per day. Be very careful not to overwater your lavender plant — it does not need much. Sweet lavender blooms from mid-April to June. E