Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Blue and Red from the Garden, a bit of white.

Dear Folks,

I posted on FB a day or 2 ago. "I don't know if I am alone in my perception of what is going to go for the next 48 hours, but I decided a ping-pong facts fest is not what would bring me any satisfaction."

SO, I decided to occupy myself with garden and cooking. (I made a squash, apple, onion, saute last night. Oh was that good!)

The blue and white Blue Butterfly Flower harvest the other day was one of the biggest I've had, now drying in the frig. The plant is frost sensitive so I think it knows we may be dropping temps in the next couple of days.  When we had the cool nights a week or so ago, it produced almost no flowers. Here is the link to the November planting where I also wrote about this amazing antioxidant flower.

On to the red. Time to harvest my Roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa).  This high antioxidant "fruit" is the swollen calyx of the flower.  I got my seeds in late, but the hot summer (it LOVES the heat as long as it has enough water) pushed maturity to the normal times.

Harvesting has to be done by hand (in my opinion) because of the very tiny, tiny fly with burrows really tiny holes in the "petals" and can damage the interior.  The other problem is potential for mold. So the whole fruit must be opened and inspected.  I am showing the juice on the scissors from cutting the fruit off.  I use them so I don't damage the other buds near by.

If you look at the picture at the top of this collage, you can see the dimple of where the insect bored in.  The next picture shows the mold I need to watch out for. Sometimes the whole fruit is damaged, sometimes just a few petals.  The whole "seed head" has to be removed.  Later on I will let many of these completely dry on the plant and havest the seed for re-sowing next late spring.

The last picture shows all the discard, bad petals and the immature seed heads.  It amount to about 40-45% of the harvested fruit.

Finally the real harvest.

The petals are rinsed and ready set out to dry in the sun. It will take several days as our temps are going down. I bring the trays in every night to keep the petals from re-absorbing moisture.

The whole harvest from cut to on the trays took about an hour.  Time well spent. Once completely dried I will store them for teas and baking.  I love using this tangy cranberry flavored fruit for making sweet nut and fruit quick breads (aka cake).  Later on if I have room in the freezer, I will harvest more fresh and freeze them.  I lay foods like this on a tray in the freezer to individually freeze, so I can put it in ziplock or container and just pour out what I want to use without them freezing together.

BTW the petals will stain you hands red, but the red rinses off with soap and water.

Both the Blue Butterfly Flower and the Roselle impart gorgeous color to beverages and food (yes they can be used to color food), BUT the Blue Butterfly Flower color is impacted by acid.  So one of the fun things that people do when they make the beautiful blue tea is to squeeze a bit of lemon or lime into it and watch it change to pink or purple!!!!!

One of the things I am going to try, when I have some of both dried, is to combine them and see if I get a different color. :)  Since they are so good for you with all the antioxidants it will be a fun experiment and won't be wasted whatever color it becomes.

Be kind, be patient and be nice to yourselves and each other,

- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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