I read in the Peterson's Wild Edible Field Guide that you could make marshmallows, capers and tea from the hollyhock plant. Well actually they were under the marsh mallow plant. The book said there are similarities between the two flowers, so I wanted to give these recipes a try.
I have planted flowers in the yard the past few years. I am very discriminate against any non-edible flowers. If you are a flower and you are in my yard, you need to feed me. I looked into edible flowers or bee attracting flowers; Bee's help to pollinate flowers. I have planted: marigolds, lady slippers, johnny jump-ups, hollyhocks, nasturtiums, zinnia, echinacea and many others, but only a few of them took.
Hollyhocks are a gorgeous flower. They look like something my grandma would have had growing up. They grow to be over seven feet tall, with several flowers coming out of the stalk. They are a perennial and they re-seed more flowers. This year I had several I never planted growing in our main vegetable garden. I knew what they were when they started to come up, so I let them grow. They are a great addition to the yard.
I have a dozen hollyhock plants in my yard and I wanted to use them. The Japanese beetle devoured a lot of the leafs off the flowers, but I was able to get a half pint of the small flower buds. Then I dug up four of the roots for marshmallows and medicinal tea.
The first thing I tried were the marshmallows. It's a marshmallow before the marshmallow we know today. You take the root of the marsh mallow plant, peel the outer skin, cut it in pieces and boil it in sugar water. It puffs up and looks and tastes similar to a modern marshmallow. The hollyhock root didn't turn out. It didn't puff up and it was really stringy. It didn't taste half bad, but I will need to try it with the marsh mallow root.
I needed a recipe for the capers. The Wild Edible Field Guide didn't give me one. I found a recipe at The Splendid Table for nasturtium capers. When I work in the kitchen I often listen to Lynne Rossetto Kasper; She inspires me! The recipe is for nasturtium seed pods, but I thought I would give it a try with the hollyhock flower buds.
I combined three cups of water and six tablespoons of salt and brought it to a boil. I poured the mixture onto the clean flower buds in a clean wide mouth pint jar. I put a normal size lid in the jar and a weight on the lid in the jar to hold the buds in the brine. I covered and let it sit in my pantry for three days. On the third day I made a mixture of: 3/4 cup white vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar, two bay leafs and some dried thyme. I brought this to boil and poured it into a jar with the drained flower buds. I put a lid on it and set it in the fridge for another three days.
The taste was... like eating young unopened flower buds, that are in white vinegar, seasoned with bay leafs and thyme. It seems pretty straight forward. Maybe the taste changes as they age. The texture is cool. It has a rough- thick, thicker than a lettuce leaf, but not too thick outer leaf. Inside there is a very young flower with a bright color to it.
I enjoy the tea the most out of these three recipes. I took the unearthed root, let it sit outside to dry for a week or so, brought it inside, rinsed it off, cut a couple inches of it up, boiled it in a quart of water for 15 min or so and drank the cooled tea.It's not real strong and it has a very pleasant taste- like root. It's not bitter at all. I am looking forward to drinking more. I have three more large roots out back to save. I will drink the stuff just for the taste, but medicinally it soothes a sore throat and helps with an irritated digestive tract.