Please use Caution: All varieties of wisteria growing in the United States have edible blossoms, however, the seeds and pods are highly toxic. DO NOT use any part of the plant other than the flowers, and please do not consume any plant or flower unless you are absolutely certain it is safe. There is a great app called PlantSnap that can help with identifying plants and flowers.
One of the most fragrant and beautiful of all the plants surrounding our house is wisteria. We have a trellis outside our sunroom that’s been taken over by wisteria and trumpet vines over the years, and this time of year, the gorgeous purple blossoms hang down from overhead, their clean, sweet scent wafting through the house.
Similar to lilac, I consider it a stronger, more sweet and somewhat cloying scent, and I recommend using it sparingly. A little definitely goes a long way. Unlike lilac, wisteria plants contain some highly toxic compounds, and should be treated with caution. Their seeds and seed pods look like something edible – but they are not, and consuming even a small quantity can be deadly. So please be careful when foraging, and always make sure you know what you’re picking and what you’re eating!
That being said, the blossoms are safe to eat and wonderfully fragrant, adding a floral, slightly bitter, vegetal flavor to salads and other cuisine. After seeing that my wisteria were in full bloom, I was inspired to create a syrup using my hot-to-cold tea style infusion method, which I find preserves delicate flavors in flowers and herbs better than the usual hot, stove-top method. When I used to develop skin care products, I remember reading that you don’t want to “cook” herbs when creating infusions, you just want to warm them enough to allow them to release their essence. Over heating can radically change scent and flavor, and even burn off the wonderful phytonutrients. Because the wisteria blossoms have such a potent aroma, I decided to make this syrup fairly mild and just used as many flowers as I could cover with liquid. Feel free to add more if you want a stronger flavor.
After a trip up to a local New Hampshire distillery, Tamworth Distilling, I was excited to use their Chocorua Rye in a cocktail, and I decided it would be the perfect thing to blend with my foraged wisteria syrup and some other local and seasonal flavors. I added violet liqueur, some frozen blueberries from my own bushes (last year’s berries), and lemon juice to balance things out, and the result was a gorgeous, tart and refreshing blue-purple tipple.
Baking is a serious passion of mine, and I love making quick batches of cookies whenever my husband and I are in the mood for a treat. I had been planning to make some lemon and coconut cookies, so I thought, why not add some of this lovely, floral, wisteria syrup to the lemon frosting to add a delicious depth to our dessert and make the perfect accompaniment to my wisteria whiskey sour!
Blueberry Wisteria Whiskey Sour
- 1.5 oz Tamworth Distilling Chocorua Rye
- 1 oz lemon juice
- .5 oz violet liqueur
- .25 oz wisteria blossom syrup*
- Handful frozen blueberries
Muddle the blueberries in a shaker with the lemon juice. Add remaining ingredients and ice, and shake until chilled. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with wisteria flowers, if desired. Beautiful glass by Hospitality Glass.
*Wisteria Blossom Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1-2 cups wisteria blossoms (or as many as you can cover with the liquid)
- Large glass measuring cup or heat proof bowl
- Mesh strainer
Remove wisteria blossoms from their stems. In a large glass measuring cup, add sugar and 1 cup of wisteria blossoms. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over them and stir until sugar dissolves fully. Add as many wisteria blossoms as you can cover with the liquid, using a spoon to press them down. Cover, let cool, then place in the fridge to steep for an afternoon. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store in a clean glass bottle or jar. I recommend adding vodka to preserve this syrup or using it within 1-2 weeks. Syrups with fresh botanical ingredients do not keep as long as those made with dried plants. Store in the refrigerator.
Wisteria-Scented Lemon Coconut Cookies
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
- 2 cups (300g) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) butter
- 1/2 cup (100g) coconut oil (organic, unrefined for the best coconut flavor)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp organic coconut extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl mix until incorporated. I don’t have a stand mixer and typically just mix my dough by hand (crazy, I know!). Shape dough into balls about 1 ¼ inches. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges start to brown. Place on a cooling rack to cool.
Lemon + Wisteria Icing
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tbsp wisteria syrup
- Lemon juice (about 2-4 tbsp)
Add sugar to a large bowl and add wisteria syrup. Slowly add lemon juice while mixing until a desired consistency is reached. Spread onto cooled cookies and top each with a wisteria blossom.