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HERB OF THE MONTH – APRIL 2022: Pinks Dianthus spp.

HERB OF THE MONTH – APRIL 2022: Pinks Dianthus spp.

The Herb of the Month for April is Pinks Dianthus spp.

The name of this flower comes from the Greek words for “of Zeus’. The Dianthus genus contains a large family of about 340 species or cultivars, which includes carnations, clove pinks, cottage pinks, and Sweet Williams.  Nowadays there are many additional hybrids available with some still retaining that wonderful ‘clove’ fragrance. This plant is native to Europe and Asia, but a few varieties can be found in north Africa and southern Africa.

The Dianthus has been part of the cottage garden for centuries and has been used in traditional medicine around the world.  Usages have included treatment of fever, kidney stones, urinary tract infections and more.

The Romans, anciently, and the English in the middle ages used the flowers to flavor wine, giving rise to the common name of sops-in-wine in England.

There are many culinary uses for the flowers.  They can be used in wine, cordials, and other alcoholic drinks or when making a simple syrup.  Other uses include making desserts, adding it to softened butter, or infusing a white wine vinegar.  The blossoms can be candied, or used plain as a garnish and added to salads to liven them up.  Commercially, dianthus is an ingredient in making the French liqueur Chartreuse. Please note, these flowers are toxic to pets.

Dianthus are hardy in our zone 7b and will prefer a well-drained bed in the full sun that is neutral or alkaline. It will flower from spring through to autumn, usually in shades of pink. They will do well in a container with consistent watering and mulching around the roots, but do not mulch the crown of the plant. Light fertilization through some compost will work very well. Deadheading and careful grooming of the plant throughout the summer will encourage new blooms.


Tips and Recipes using Dianthus

When using the flowers, cut off the white part of the flower petals, the sepal, and style because they are bitter.

As alway, be sure that your flowers have not been treated with any pesticides!

Lightly rinse and dry your petals before use.

Using the petals in salads or ice cubes can be a first step in experimentation.

Add the petals to softened, unsalted butter as a lovely Sunday breakfast spread for muffins.

Try making a fresh herbal tea by combining 1 cup of boiling water with 1 Tablespoon petals or combination of fresh herbs.  Allow the tea to steep between 3 to 5 minutes.

Herbal Dianthus Butter

Keyword: dianthus
Author: Urania Erskine

Materials

  • 1 stick good quality unsalted, sweet butter softened
  • ½ cup dianthus petals or combination of edible flowers, such a violets

Instructions

  • Combine the top two ingredients. Either put into a decorative butter mold (silicone soap mold), or roll the mass into a log. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to infuse the flavor into the butter. Decorated with additional blossoms and serve at room temperature to accompany your favorite baked treat.

Dianthus Flower Cookies

Course: Dessert
Keyword: dianthus
Author: Urania Erskine

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted, sweet butter
  • ½ cup sugar slightly mounded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla paste
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. Cream the first four ingredients together. Sift the last three ingredients together. Combine all carefully and chill to firm the dough up in the refrigerator. This can be as a ball or as a roll. After the dough has chilled, cut the rolled dough into about ¼” rounds, or cut the rolled out dough with a cookie cutter. Place on parchment paper and bake about 12 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Remove quickly and press flower petals unto the cookies. Slightly moistening the petals on one side with egg white is an option.
Reni Erskine
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