Floral ice cubes add zing to summer drinks

As summer garden party season gets underway, why not show off your home-grown flowers in the drinks you serve guests?

Ice cubes containing flowerheads or sprigs of herbs are a great addition to drinks, adding colour and flavour to all sorts of summer concoctions, from punches to cocktails and cordials, says gardener Tanya Anderson. Her latest book, A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants And Make Useful Things, shows you how to make the most of your plants.

She offers the following tips and tricks on making floral ice cubes and other ice creations using plants from your garden.

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Choose the right flowers for the job

“Cut edible flowers when they are at their best and use the types that are compatible with your drink. Borage, for instance, is perfect for Pimm’s because its blue flowers have a refreshing cucumber flavour.

“Borage blossoms and mild voilas are ideal for lemonade or gin and tonic,” she suggests. “You can pair lavender with a lavender floral syrup, and the same with rose petals. Cornflowers are also great.

“Most edible flowers have a very subtle flavour that won’t impair the taste of your drink. People say cornflowers have a peppery flavour, but I have never found that in a drink.”

Read: Edible flowers that will colour your salads – and your garden

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Avoid pungent blooms

“You may want to avoid edible flowers that taste garlicky or oniony, or have a flavour that’s going to make you sip your drink and think, ‘What’s that strange flavour?’” she notes.

“You wouldn’t want to use chives, which have an onion flavour, or nasturtiums, which are peppery, unless you are making something such as a bloody Mary.”

Use distilled water

“You see a lot of misinformation online about boiling the water to make the ice crystal clear. That doesn’t work. It’s best to work with distilled water, which will give you the clearest ice cubes.”

Stop flowers from floating to the top of the cube

“A lot of people find the flowers float to the surface and don’t freeze inside the ice. The trick is to put a little bit of water into the ice cube mould, maybe half a centimetre, freeze that, take it out when it’s frozen.

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“Wet your flower on the end that is going on the bottom, press it down on to the ice and it will stick. Then fill the remainder of the mould to the top with distilled water and freeze it again. That way the flower should stay inside.”

Invest in silicone moulds

“Silicone ice cube moulds are really easy to use and you can get big cube-shaped ones, or circular types, which are really popular.”

Colour your drink

“Some edible flowers will tint your drink as the ice cube melts. For instance, if you put magenta flowers such as amaranth into ice cubes and your drink is a light colour, maybe Prosecco-based or gin-based, it will turn the entire glass pink, providing a real fun effect. Alternatively, hibiscus flowers infuse a deep red.”

Amaranth ice cubes turn a drink pink. (Tanya Anderson/PA)

Make a floral ice bucket

“People also make ice buckets out of ice with flowers embedded into the bucket. You’d need two plastic bowls, one that could fit into the other. Put a little water in the biggest bowl, freeze it and place the flowers on to the ice, then set the second bowl inside and fill the cavity between the two bowls with water and insert more flowers.”

Go further with floral ice poles

“I’ve seen lovely recipes where ice poles have flowers embedded inside. You could do the different layers different colours, depending on the effect you want.”

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A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants And Make Useful Things by Tanya Anderson is published by Cool Springs Press. Available now.

Do you want to try your hand at growing edible plants and flowers? What’s first on the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Keen on cut flowers? Here’s how to grow your own

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