Magnolia Flower Pickle

I’m on a bit of a Magnolia Flower binge at the moment – it’s understandable, they’re only buds for a short time and our weather is so changeable right now, you’ve got to ‘gather your rosebuds magnolias while you may’! Today’s foodie choice is magnolia flower pickle, which means we can enjoy them well into the year.

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.  The most common edible magnolias are Magnolia coco, grandiflora, enudata, mhypoleuca,  kobus,  liliflora, mexicana, pterocarpa, and oulangeana.magnolia flower pickle

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, beautymagnolia flower pickle

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!

magnolia flower pickle

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!

Does this all sound familiar? Yes, I wrote the same things about magnolia flowers in the post about chocolate-dipped magnolia flowers. 

Tips for magnolia flower pickle

A few things to tell you:

  • I prepare the flowers by taking off the furry outside shell (sepal).
  • I also cut off the stigma, leaving round hollow rosettes. You don’t have do to this, but I prefer it. I think it looks pretty. 
  • You can slice these up – it’s probably more practical at the end of the day, but in honesty – I am going for an aesthetic here. I’ll slice them up when serving them!
  • Rinse your flowers when you’ve picked them, but be gentle. They bruise really easily.
  • I’ve done them in 200ml jars – make sure to use glass jars with a coated lid so that the vinegar doesn’t react to the metal in the lid.
  • Use rice vinegar as you can, as it has the most subtle flavour. You can also use white vinegar or even apple cider vinegar, but they can overwhelm the gentle flavour somewhat.

How to eat magnolia flower pickle

Magnolia flower pickle can be eaten with most Asian foods as a side – like you would have lime pickle.

It’s also really good with sushi in place of the pickled ginger – but not just that, it’s good with most fish too. You can have pickled magnolia flowers anywhere you’d have pickled ginger, really!

Pickled Magnolia Flowers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Foraged food
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 1 jar
  • 8 - 10 Magnolia Flowers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 star anise
  • About a cup of vinegar (about 200 - 250ml)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Prepare the flowers by removing the sepal and stigma (cut off the bottom, essentially, and keep just the petals.) You can separate and roughly chop the petals at this point, but be gentle - use a sharp knife - to prevent bruising.
  2. In a saucepan, add the vinegar, salt and sugar and heat gently until dissolved.
  3. Pour into the jars, making sure not to leave much room for air.
  4. Add the garlic clove and star anise, and seal.
  5. Leave for about 24 hours and they'll be ready to eat. Of course, if you've prepared them for beauty over function, as I have, you'll need to slice them before serving.


Keep an eye out for more magnolia flower recipes!

Magnolia Flower Drizzle
Chocolate-Dipped Magnolia Flowers