Floral ice cubes add a touch of class to a Summer cocktail in the garden. They are relatively easy to make, once you know which flowers to use and how to freeze them without them just floating to the top!
The best way to preserve edible flowers is by freezing them in ice cubes. If we were to freeze them directly then they are prone to ‘freezer burn’ and the delicate petals would sustain damage and look unappealing. By using an ice cube we can retain the color, flavor and shape of the flowers.
Let’s look at the type of flowers and the best way to get crystal clear ice cubes.
Guide To Making Edible Flower Ice Cubes
Freezing edible flowers is the best way to preserve them for cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks. But there are pitfalls.
To make edible flower ice cubes you will need to harvest your flowers in the morning and then float them in your ice cube trays with about 1/2 the level of water or tonic you want to add. Freeze, then fill up with more liquid and freeze again. This will ensure your flowers don’t get frost damaged.
You don’t have to use water, sometimes tonic water is perfect or even olive oil if you want to use the flowers in cooking later on. We use a stackable ice cube tray that is also silicon and easy to pop the ice cubes out from, available from Amazon here.
- Pick your edible flowers early in the morning. Shake off any insects or even wait until the bees have finished if you are harvesting borage or other high nectar flowers.
- Select the liquid you want to add to the ice cubes. If you are going for perfectly clear ice cubes then distilled water that has been boiled and cooled is ideal. If you are fine with a more ‘natural’ look tap water is great. You can also go for elderflower cordial, tonic water or other flavored waters. Your flowers can be matched to the flavor.
- Place an edible flower into each ice cube tray. Put some facing down as they will all float a little and you get a bit of movement once you carry your tray into the freezer. If you are doing this with kids you can use ice lolly molds and their favorite squash and it is one of those great Summer treats that cost very little!
- Fill your ice cube tray to around 1/2 the flowers will float, but that’s ok. If doing ice lollies fill the bottom with squash but don’t go too high as you want the flowers to be held in place and not float all the way up!
- Pop your edible flower ice cubes into the freezer. I tend to leave mine for around an hour as then the water is starting to freeze, but the flowers aren’t damaged by the freezer. The water may not be totally frozen but it will hold the flowers in place.
- Remove from the freezer and fill up completely with water. You may find some of the flowers are already covered but just make sure that all of the petals have water over them.
- If you are making floral ice lollies then you can do a layer at a time and add more flowers are you go. Even matching the colors of the flowers to the colors of the squash used. Let the kids decide and they can make ‘flower fairy’ ice pops.
- Pop back into the freezer and after a few more hours you are ready to pop them out for the cutest floral ice cubes ever. What could be better than sipping a cocktail with flowers and herbs from your garden?
- You can pop the floral ice cubes out of their tray and store in a zip lock bag if you like and they take up less space. Make sure they are completely frozen before you do this, otherwise you may end up with an epic frozen block of flowery mess! Not that I would ever admit to that myself.
Edible Flowers That Can Be Frozen In Ice Cubes
There are many different edible flowers and herbs that will freeze well in an ice cube and add a different look to your Summer drinks. Some are even perfect for adding to Winter cocktails by the fire!
Edible flowers that make a perfect floral ice cubes include; borage, chives, hibiscus, rose, lavender, sage, mint, basil, pansies, nasturtiums, calendula. Each have their different taste profiles and will work well with different liquids added. From tonic water to cordial and even alcohol.
Try these ar home and see for yourself!
Basil Flowers Can Be Eaten
Basil flowers are petite and grow in stems. You may well need an entire stem of the spike like flowers in an ice cube tray and the flavor is very delicate the match the size of each flower. Ranging from white to pale pink these are very much the perfect flower for salads or cocktails. Pairs well with a Bloody Mary like our basil twist one here, or with heavier cocktails like G&T.
Borage Blooms Are Edible
Star shaped and vibrant in color, we love borage flowers in cocktails or cordials all summer long. The vibrant color is not matched by the very subtle and gentle flavor that is similar to cucumber.
Pairs well with Pimms, Gin and Tonic or softer Summer drinks.
Calendula Flowers Are Edible
Vibrant orange flowers that may be a little too bog for an entire ice cube! We like to take the petals and add to a borage ice cube tray or even to lighter color flowers. It gives a blast of color but the flavor is almost peppery and very moreish in many ways.
Pairs well with fruity cocktails like Pina Colada or a margarita.
Chamomile Flowers Have A Delicate Flavor
Chamomile flowers are like large daisies and our niece described them as looking a bit like shuttlecocks as the petals are sort of pulled back a little. The taste is gentle and tastes like sweet apple crossed with hay. A sort of herbaceous apple if you like.
The best way to prepare chamomile ice cubes is to make up a pot of chamomile tea and wait for the tea to cool. Then use that in your trays. Still follow the above steps to ensure your flower is covered completely.
Pairs well with lighter cocktails and actually even light rum based ones. A mojito with chamomile ice cubes works well. I wouldn’t eat the flowers but they are not harmful.
Chives Are Edible And Unusual
Chive flowers are like a gentle allium with a hint of floral sweetness. When used in ice cubes they hold their shape really well. Perfect with clear cocktails or drinks as the purple to light blue color can be seen more easily.
Pairs well with more mature cocktails like a martini or vodka based drinks. Really nice in a dirty martini actually!
Hibiscus flowers are tart and sweet and all sorts of beautiful! Really lovely addition to any cocktail and the ice cube will melt to reveal this gorgeous taste explosion as well!
Pairs well with a fun Pina colada to create a sharpness that may be otherwise too sweet. Also great in any clear drinks that you want to add a really cute burst of color in as well.
Lavender Flowers Are Edible And Tasty
Lavender is best harvested when the flower stem is still soft as you will get woodiness in your ice cubes otherwise. This way you can keep them on the stem, if not you can easily remove each flower. It looks better to have the whole though. A sweet and floral addition to any cocktail or cold drink, but they look especially good in clear drinks.
Pairs well with softer cocktails or drinks like elderflower cordial or just sweeter drinks. We use flavored water to make up our ice cubes as this will infuse with the lavender and really make a nice addition.
Mint Flowers Are Edible
Mint flowers are small clusters of flowers that range in color from white to light pink or purple like lilac color. Perfect when frozen into ice cubes but with a very gentle flavor. It is more about adding the floral than the aroma or taste.
Pairs well with any mint based cocktail or mocktail. A mojito is perfect and we love mint flowers in milkshakes as well, like our strawberry vegan ‘milkshake’ recipe available here.
Nasturtiums – Taste A Bit Peppery
The vibrant colors of nasturtiums range from deep orange to reds and even vibrant yellows. Giving a peppery taste that is quite distinct, nasturtiums are well known as salad flowers, but they also freeze well in ice cubes and make for a vibrant addition to a Summertime drink.
Paris well with any deeper flavor cocktail, like a martini or vodka based cocktail. We even like it in a whisky based drink as the peppery flavor works in harmony with the peat and smoky flavors of some single malts.
Pansies Are Edible With A Delicate Flavor
If you want a range of colors in your ice cubes then go for pansies or even voilas. They will be available in Spring as well as Autumn or Fall and this measn you can have a year round harvest for your ice cubes.
Pair well with most drinks as this is more about the colors than the flavors. Pansies are perfect in ice cubes and really hold their vibrancy when frozen.
Sage Flowers Are Edible
Sage flowers are small and come in clusters, so you can choose to have them as spikes in ice cubes or go for using tweezers to remove and put them in individually. This is a labor of love, but very effective when paired with other larger flowers like chives.
Pairs well with more mature drinks as there is a musk like aroma to sage flowers that will not overpower rum, whiskey or even certain liqueurs.
TOP TIP – just because a flower is classed as edible does not mean you have to eat it. The term ‘edible’ signifies that there will be no harmful effects from eating it. You may prefer to use the flowers are merely decorative but freezing them in ice cubes means you will have a year round supply!
What Next & Further Reading
Make sure to only use edible flowers or herbs in your ice cubes as you don’t want to accidentally poison anyone! Ice lollies are a great way to get the kids interested in both gardening and home ‘cooking’ but they are also super cheap when made at home. Using the flowers just adds a little interest and you can go as overboard as you like about the flower fairies!
- Teaching Children How To Love Their Garden if you want more ideas for getting the kids involved with gardening and growing their own food!
- Cocktail Lovers Herb Garden Planting Guide for more inspiration for cocktails and growing your own botanicals.
- What Herbs Are In Jägermeister this is also a useful example of herbs and botanicals that work well in liqueurs and alcoholic drinks. Match the herbs found here with the flowers for a perfect herbal ice cube cocktail!