In our part of the world, Magnolia flowers are among the first signs of spring. Tightly wrapped in their ‘blankets’ – the sepal – they’re just waiting for the warmer weather to open up and show their cheery faces to the sun.
There are many different types of magnolia trees, and while all magnolias are considered edible, not all of them have been tested, so people can be a bit weary of trying newer species. Some sources say you can’t eat them raw, others say you can… I’ll leave it up to you to make up your mind!
The most common edible magnolias are Magnolia coco, grandiflora, denudata, hypoleuca, kobus, liliflora, mexicana, pterocarpa, and oulangeana.
In the ‘language of flowers, the different colours of magnolias have different meanings:
- White: perseverance, purity, dignity, determination, modesty
- Pink: shyness, innocence, joy, sensitivity
- Yellow: prosperity, luck, loyalty, good health
- Purple: luck, fertility, courage, beauty
The other thing with magnolia flower? Every variety tastes a little different, with a flavour spectrum ranging from ginger to cardamom to lemon. Which one is the best? Well, that’s up to you to decide – have a nibble on a petal or three before you use them in a recipe and decide what your favourite is!
We know now that food is medicine, and you are what you eat so it’s worth pointing out that magnolia flowers are used in over 200 Chinese medicine remedies, and that the flowers are indicated (some scientifically, some traditionally) for rheumatic problems, diarrhea, cough, asthma, and menopause symptoms. The two phenolic compounds, magnolol and onochiol, are effective anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant agents, constituting a valid aid in reducing the states associated with psychophysical stress (anxiety, panic, and insomnia), so like with anything new – try small quantities first and enjoy in moderation. This is not medical advice – it’s just smart!
I’ve always loved chrystalised ginger dipped in chocolate, but of course chrystalised ginger is sugared, so it’s not something I eat very often. I decided to try the very gingery magnolias on our street dipped in dark chocolate, and they’ve proven to be a hit in our home.
As for ‘recipes’… well, this one is a bit of a cheat – melt chocolate, dip in magnolias, the end!
- 100g dark chocolate
- 15 - 20 magnolia buds
- Wash the magnolia flowers gently and set aside to dry. Treat them tenderly so they don't bruise.
- I also remove the furry sepal at this point, but leave the stamen in place.
- Melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie, double boiler, or similar.
- Once melted, hold the magnolia flower by the stamen end and dip the petal end in the chocolate.
- Set aside on a try and leave to dry.
- When serving, either cut off the stamen end or leave it as something to 'hold' when you're eating your chocolate covered marigolds.
Keep an eye out for more magnolia flower recipes!