Beautiful Bougainvillea

January 23, 2018

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I was excited to see this gorgeous flower is edible, one, because it’s so beautiful and a favourite of mine and two, because after years of killing them I have finally found a sheltered spot in my garden where it will grow!

They are frost tender which makes them tricky to grow here in Wairarapa but can be grown in pots and bought under cover during colder months. Luckily I have found a corner of the house that is protected and the plant is thriving. 

The flower bracts of Bougainvillea are edible. They can be eaten fresh in salads, deep fried in batter and used in drinks (the colour from the flower bracts seeps into liquids) and of course as decoration. Beware of the thorns when picking though!

This Recipe below for Bougainvillea switzel is taken from a book by Linda Brennan from Ecobotanica.com.au.  Linda has written an amazing book about edible flowers and their uses and her website also has recipes for using edible flowers. You can buy her here book at Booktopia

Bougainvillea switzel

Switzel is an-old fashioned drink also known as "shrub'' or "fruit vinegar''.

Makes about 5 cups of concentrate

INGREDIENTS: 4 cups bright, fresh bougainvillea flower bracts

4 cups filtered water

¾ cup white sugar

4 slices of lemon

1 cup fresh lemon verbena flowers and leaves OR lemon myrtle leaves

1 cup fresh pineapple pieces

½ cup unpasteurised apple cider vinegar with the mother.

To serve: Seasonal fruits

METHOD: Rinse the bougainvillea to remove pollen before adding them and the water to a large saucepan.

Bring to the boil and remove from heat. Allow to sit 5 minutes. The water will take on the colour of the bracts.

Strain out the bracts, retaining the liquid. Return the coloured liquid to the pot and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve then reheat to boil 1 minute to create a syrup.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon slices, leaves and pineapple.

Mash them with a potato masher to release the flavours of the fruit. Allow it to infuse in the syrup for 5 minutes.

Strain the liquid and keep it, but discard the solids. Cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, add the vinegar and leave on the bench, covered, for 8-12 hours to begin fermentation.

This will consume some of the sugar and give you a very slightly effervescent drink. Pour into bottles and refrigerate.

To serve, add ice and chopped seasonal fruits to a glass. Pour in a little switzel concentrate as you would for cordial.

Dilute with soda or mineral water.

COOK'S NOTE: Using unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, which has the vinegar mother, encourages the development of beneficial bacteria in a very mild ferment, so it's good for gut health. For an alcoholic switzel, add a little gin to your glass.



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