Meadowsweets Candied Flowers by Vivan Escaravege
A unique family owned business. Meadowsweets Candied Flowers, resides in rural upstate New York's Schohakie Valley. Since 1993, the Meadowsweets company has specialized in making pansies, johnny-jump-ups, miniature roses, violas, and lavender into candied flowers. These delicate works of art go through a crystallizing process that helps maintain the shape of the flower. The beauty, color, and appearance of each flower looks vibrant and real.
The edible flowers have appeared on a variety of cakes, crepes, petit fours, pastries, blintzes, cupcakes, cookies, and decorated stairways. The images of miniature roses cascading in front of a birthday cake, jewel like pansies hanging from a window box, or the elegance of lavender blossoms sprinkled across a bridal path creates memories.
"We are in the business of growing pansies, violas, johnny-jump-ups, lavender and miniature roses throughout the year. We grow the flowers without pesticides and sprays."
says Toni Elling.
She is responsible for all the main duties at Meadowsweets. Toni's daughter, Liz and her husband, Herman live in California. They are responsible for the roses and the wholesale orders. Most of the orders, Toni mails out of state, Europe, Japan and parts of the Middle East.
Even Martha Stewart got a taste of the candied flowers on the set of her television show. Toni demostrated how she creates perfectly sculptured pansies, roses, and lavender. After the show, Toni received an overwhelming response from people in New York and other states wanting to place an order.
"At one time, an order for 1200 johnny-jump-ups kept us very busy.
Lately, there has been a strong interest in lavender blossoms and daisies which have to be in season. Fall and spring are the wedding seasons."
says Toni. Meadowsweets' candied flowers have been featured in Pastry Art & Design, Fine Cooking, Gourmet, Victoria, and Gardens Illustrated, Martha Stewart Living, and William-Sonoma Catalogs. Meadowsweets' flowers are included in Flowerkeeping, Wedding Cake Book, Les Mortelles, and Gourmets' Desserts.
The most popular flower requests are roses, pansies, and violas purchased for tea parties, weddings, birthdays, and special events. Prices are based on sizes and what flower is in season at the time. Roses come in vintage and heirloom varieties that capture the timelessbeauty of the period. The colors range in pink, delicate pink, yellow canary, yellow, and rich gold crimson. Roses are always available to buy and medium to miniature roses sell abundantly in a light pink, red, yellow and white color.
"I find roses to be the most difficult to work with. Actually it is the petals. Scented geranium blossoms and violas are also difficult. Learning the process of making a candied flower is simple. We grow the flowers ourselves because thats the only way we can absolutely be sure of their eligibility."
In fall, spring and summer, the flowers grow in the garden and in the winter are kept in a greenhouse. Toni's mother is a master gardener who had seven hundred rosebushes and similar number of other perennials on a one third of acre in size.
The edible flowers should be picked at the peak of perfection and they need to be sturdy to stand the crystallizing. Then the flower is covered from front to back with a coating of egg white and sprinkle the flower with superfine sugar. The flower must dry completely which takes from three days to a week depending on the humidity. Air drying keeps the color of the flower vibrant and heat destroys the beauty of the flower. Toni does one delicate flower at a time for the best quality and results.
"People can buy the Flower Crystallization Kit from the website at meadowsweetscandiedflowers.com. The kit carries directions, tools needed for crystallization, one sample flower. and about 75 flowers."
Willams-Sonoma company requested the Meadowsweets' Flower Crystallization Self Starter Kit. There have been requests and inquiries for the kit from people who want to know how to make candied flowers.
Individual flowers are available to buy for an anniversary, sweet sixteen or a special occasion. Pansies and violas cost $2.50 each, roses from $4.00, johnny jump-ups $1.25 plus the minimum order for crystallized flowers is 12. Buying individual flowers is great for mixing and matching.
"There is so many creative things to do with candied flowers. I am always learning myself."
says Toni. She plans to continue to create the breathtakingly beautiful candied flowers she loves to make.
By the same contributor: The Majestic History of the Humble Tea Cake