Did you know that magnolia flowers are edible? Not only edible, but also delicious, with a mild ginger flavour. They can be eaten fresh and raw in a salad, but they also work well pickled. Pickled magnolia blossoms remind me of Japanese gari – the thinly sliced and pickled ginger often served with sushi.
How did I come to pickle magnolia flowers? I shared some pictures of the gorgeous magnolia trees blooming in our garden via social media a few days ago, and someone commented that they’d heard the flowers are edible.
After confirming that magnolias are definitely not poisonous, I tried some petals raw and was amazed! They are delicious and definitely gingery. Magnolia flowers have a milder taste than the root ginger we usually use in cooking, with none of its fieriness; they are far more like young and tender ginger, which is commonly used to make gari. That’s what gave me the idea to pickle them in a simple East-Asian style.
Pickled magnolia flowers work well as a condiment for spicy Asian food, as an accompaniment with cheese, and like gari, they are great with sushi.
A Simple Recipe for Pickled Magnolia Blossoms
Pickled Magnolia Blossoms
This pickle is fresh and light and works well with spicy Asian dishes. It can also be used in place of gari (sushi ginger) when serving sushi and sashimi. Once made, it will last for several days in the fridge.
- 80-100 grams magnolia petals, freshly picked (see Notes)
- 150 ml vinegar (see Notes)
- 50 grams sugar
- 0.5 tsp salt
My tree is a magnolia × soulangeana. Each individual flower is about 10 cm in length and weighs about 10 grams, which provides about 8 grams of petals. If you are using blossoms from a species with smaller flowers, you may like to pickle the petals whole rather than slicing them.
Use a light vinegar such as rice vinegar, cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Avoid stronger choices such as balsamic, red wine or malt vinegars which will overwhelm the flavour of the flowers. I used cider vinegar on this occasion.
Measure the vinegar by volume and add the weighed sugar and the salt to it.
Heat the pickling liquid gently and stir until the sugar has melted in. You can do this on the stove top or in a microwave - I heated mine for 30 seconds, stirred, and heated again for another 30 seconds.
Taste the pickling liquid to check if the balance between sweet and sharp is to your tastes. If not, add a little more vinegar or sugar, as needed.
Carefully break the petals off the flower at their base. Discard everything but the petals.
Stack the petals of a flower on top of each other, roll them up and slice thinly with a sharp knife.
Drop the sliced petals into the pickling liquid, stirring briefly to ensure they are submerged in the liquid.
Continue until all the flowers are sliced and steeping in the pickling liquid.
Transfer into a jam jar or suitable container.
Once cool, refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
We had our first taste of the pickle a condiment with a spicy Thai stir fry of pork and green beans and really like it. The sliced petals aren’t particularly pretty but the gingery flavour of the magnolia blossoms really comes through and works very well as a sweet, sharp pickle.
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