Peonies In The Kitchen: Three Delicious Recipes To Make Now
We all know the magical beauty and intoxicating scent of peonies, but did you know that peonies are edible too? In fact, peonies were originally grown for medicinal purposes utilizing the roots, petals and even the seeds. Although peonies are still used in herbal medicine today, we more commonly know peonies for their beauty in our home garden and as our favorite bouquet flower. But peonies can also live on after their short-but-sweet bloom season by crafting the petals into delicious syrups, jams and cookies. Today, our farmers are sharing a few of their much-loved family recipes, which celebrate the flavor of peonies long after the luster of garden blooms faded.
Select Your Peonies
Pink peonies of every shade are desirable for jelly and syrup, especially fragrant peonies. The big and beautiful ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is one of our favorite varieties for jelly and syrup. Grab a large bouquet of Sarah’s for the house and for making peony jelly or syrup to enjoys when the blooms are long gone. (Note: when making consumable products from peonies, ensure you’re using all natural peonies that have been grown without pesticides.)
Processing Large Quantities
If you are lucky enough to own a home garden or an entire field of peonies, you may like to gather and process in large quantities like we do. Towards the end of the blooming season just snip the peony blooms off, separate the petals from the stems and greenery, rinse the petals in a colander, place in a stock pot, cover with boiling water. Let steep for 12 hours. Strain your petals and reserve 3 to 3 ½ cups liquid per batch of jelly or syrup. At this point, you may also freeze the infused peony liquid for later use.
Peony Jelly Recipe:
5 Cups cleaned, unsprayed peony petals, preferably pink shades and fragrant
5 Cups of boiling hot water
¼ Cup fresh lemon juice
1 Package of Sure-Jell or other powdered pectin
3 Cups organic granulated sugar
1 Small organic lemon
- Gather your petals. Remove all greens, leaves and debris. Rinse in a colander.
- Boil 5 cups of water.
- Place peony petals in a large bowl and pour the hot boiling water over them. Cover bowl with a towel and allow the petals to steep for 12 hours (overnight).
- Using a sieve, strain the petals from the infused water. Don’t worry about the color. It will look (and smell) nothing like the final product. Reserve 3 ½ cups of liquid.
- Heat the 3 ½ cups of infused water in a large pot on the stove until boiling. Add the powdered pectin and the lemon juice. Boil rapidly for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the granulated sugar and continue heating on medium high stirring constantly. Bring mixture to full rolling boil and boil very hard for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
- Ladle into sterilized mason jars, cover with new lids that have been sterilized in boiling water, seal with ring. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal jars. Allow to jars to completely cool before storing in a cool, dark location. If you choose not to seal your jars in a water bath then store jelly in the fridge and use it within a month.
- Makes approximately 7 half-pints.
Using Peony Jelly
This jelly is delicious on bread, toast, biscuits, muffins, in yogurt, over cream cheese and served with crackers, and used in Jelly Cookies. (Recipe included as a bonus below.)
Peony Syrup Recipe:
4 Cups cleaned, unsprayed peony petals, preferably pink shades and fragrant
3 Cups water
3 Cups sugar
Juice from half of a lemon
- Set water to boil while you wash petals thoroughly removing any greenery and stamens.
- Place petals in a bowl and pour boiling water over petals. The petals will now look sad and smell funny. You’ll be amazed at the end result! Cover with a towel and let it sit overnight.
- The next morning, pour the water into a liquid measuring bowl, squeeze the water from the petals and discard the petals. Measure how much peony water you have. Don’t worry if the color is undesirable at this point.
- Add the infused peony water to a pot and add the exact same amount of sugar as water, bring to a boil and still until the sugar dissolves.
- Let cool. Once cool, add the lemon juice. You will be amazed as the liquid changes from ugly to pink! Fun kitchen chemistry! The shade of pink will vary depending on the color of peonies you have used. Pinks and dark pinks are best for color. If you want a more vibrant color, a drop of food coloring will do the trick, but is not usually needed.
- Pour into pretty bottles. Stores in the fridge for about a month.
Using Peony Syrup
Use peony syrup and seltzer water to add to any cocktail calling for a simple syrup, or to add to a punch or home-made kombucha, and to drizzle on pancakes, waffles, on ice cream or over a cake.
Grandma’s Favorite Peony Jelly Cookie Recipe:
- Beat 3 eggs, 2 cups sugar, and ½ pound (2 sticks) butter.
- Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 scant teaspoon salt, 1 cup flour, ¾ cup milk, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.
- Add 3 more cups of flour.
- Use a tablespoon to drop batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Use a small cap from a soda bottle or lemon juice bottle dipped in sugar to make indents in the cookie drops. TIP: Moisten the cap in water before dipping it in sugar to make the sugar stick.
- Add peony jelly to the cookie indents.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Download all three recipe cards here
Find Out More
For more ways to use peonies all through the year and to be informed about newly developed peony products we have available sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page in the coral peony banner.
Share photos of your peony preserves or your favorite peony recipe with us using #passionateforpeonies or #alaskapeonycooperative on Instagram!
– Written by the Members of the Alaska Peony Cooperative