Who knew that magnolia petals are edible and, when pickled, make a pretty fair substitute for that pink pickled ginger (gari) often served with sushi? I didn’t, until it came down my social media a few days ago but plenty of other people did. I found this out when I googled ‘pickled magnolia petals’. Even Jamie Oliver has a recipe for them on line.
The recipes seem to be fairly uniform and not at all complicated.
- Pick four cups, loosely packed, of fresh magnolia petals (see my notes below on petal selection).
- Blanch the petals in boiling water for 30 seconds then drain, cool quickly and dry. I laid them out on paper towels.
- Boil 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup of sugar, 1tsp salt and a 2cm knob of peeled ginger.
- Pack the petals in a clean jar and pour over the boiling liquid. Mine filled a Roses marmalade jar.
- Seal and leave for 24 hours. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.
Surprisingly, they do taste and handle remarkably like the pink pickled ginger.
Magnolia petals are edible fresh and can be used in salads – but I can not describe them as delicious. The outside petals can get a slightly bitter after taste. Maybe take a few bites to sample when picking to pickle and you will soon get a feel for which ones will pickle the best.
I picked a mix of colours – red, pink, yellow and white. It is too early for me to advise whether some colours taste better than others. Others declare that different varieties of magnolias have different flavours but I wanted to post this before magnolia season finished so maybe we can crowd source reader opinion on this?
Next time, I will keep to younger flowers. It is easier to handle petals that are on the smaller side so the cup-shaped magnolias (often soulangeanas) are perfect candidates and bruise less than the large cup and saucer blooms with huge petals. I wouldn’t cut the petals as one recipe advised because they instantly turn brown which is not a good look.
My pickle is still very fresh but it is certainly tasty with cheese on a cracker. I plan to do a second jar to keep sealed until summer when I make sushi again but I can see it will be handy to use as a fresh pickle in many contexts, not just limited to Asian inspired dishes. It is certainly cheap and fast to make.