Homemade Fig Jam


It’s summertime, which means all the fig trees in my area are full of ripening fruit! Figs are flowering shrubs that belong in the mulberry family. They do not bear flowers on branches; the fruit we see are actually inverted flowers! If you slice a fig open, you’ll see all the little “petals” on the inside. The flower matures and eventually forms little edible seeds, which gives figs its crunch when you bite into one.

According to Brittanica, there are approximaltey 900 species of figs and the “fig wasp” is responsible for pollinating most of the world’s figs! And often the female wasps don’t make it to the correct flower (male) to lay her eggs, thus dies inside the female fig. SO, yes, there is a possibility we are getting some insect protein as we consume figs. Want to learn more? Here’s an educational article and video about the relationship of figs and their pollinators: LINK.


  • 2 pounds figs (purple or green) ~ stems removed and figs coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1.  In a large saucepan, toss the figs together with the sugar and allow to sit for about 15 minutes, until the figs become juicy and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  2. Add the water and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. The fruit should be soft and the jam should slide down the spoon in heavy drops.
  3. Allow the jam to cool to room temperature, then spoon them to mason jars and store in the refrigerator. These should last up to 3 months. They can also be frozen and thawed overnight in the refrigerator for later use.

Edible Flowering Beauties

Edible Flowering Beauties

I love gardening and using what I grow in the dishes I make. It’s so much fun! It’s even more exciting to learn that more or all parts of a flowers/plant are edible and can be incorporated into the dishes to add color and/or flavor.

I’ve compiled this non-comprehensive list by scouring my gardening books, magazines, and some websites. I may or may not be updating this list as I find more information. I will update the post and send out a new notification if a lot gets added.

Next time you are creating a culinary work of art, try to add another dimension to your dish! 🙂

These are guidelines acquired from many different reputable sources, but should NOT be considered professional advice. A good general rule of thumb, if you are NOT 100% certain about a flower, do NOT eat it. If you have hayfever or pollen allergies, do NOT eat flowers.


  • Best Time to Harvest/Gather: early mornings
  • Most Common and Safest Edible Flowers: nasturtium, pansy, violet, Johnny-jump-up, calendula, chive, sage
  • Do NOT Eat Flowers if You Have Allergies: If you have asthma, hayfever, or other allergies, do NOT eat flowers.
  • When in Doubt, Do NOT Eat IT: A good rule of thumb to live by: if you cannot positively identify a flower as edible, do NOT eat it.
  • ALWAYS Avoid Nightshade Flowers: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers and asparagus.
  • Beware of Pesticides: Never eat flowers from the side of a road, a lawn, or field known to have been treated, a nursery, garden center, or florist (they may have chemical residues that concentrate in the flowers).
  • Flower Prepping Tips: Gently wash them gently in a large bowl of cold water and let them air dry on a towel.
  • Storage: Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container lined with a damp paper towel.


  1. Alliums – Known as the “flowering onions.” All members of this genus are edible. All parts of the plants are edible. There are approximately four hundred species that includes the familiar onion, garlic, chives, ramps, shallots and leeks. Their flavors range from mild onions and leeks right through to strong onion and garlic. The flowers tend to have a stronger flavor than the leaves and the young developing seed-heads are even stronger.  We eat the leaves and flowers mainly in salads. The leaves can also be cooked as a flavoring with other vegetables in soups, etc.
  2. Arugula (Eruca vesicaria) – Also called garden rocket, roquette, rocket-salad, Oruga, rocketsalad, rocket-gentle; raukenkohl (German); rouquelle (French); rucola (Italian). The flowers are small, white with dark centers, and can be used in the salad for a light piquant flavor. The flowers taste very similar to the leaves and range in color from white to yellowish with dark purple veins. Arugula resembles radish leaves in both appearance and taste. Leaves are compound and have a spicy, peppery flavor that starts mild in young leaves and intensifies as they mature.
  3. Banana Blossoms (Musa paradisiaca) – Also know as banana hearts. The flowers are a purple-maroon torpedo shaped. Banana blossoms are used in Southeast Asian cuisines. The blossoms can be cooked or eaten raw.  The tough covering is usually removed until you get to the almost white tender parts of the blossom.  It should be sliced and let it sit in water until most of the sap are gone.  If you eat it raw, make sure the blossom comes from a variety that isn’t bitter.  Most of the Southeast Asian varieties are not bitter.
  4. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – Depending on the type, the flowers are either bright white, pale pink, or a delicate lavender. The flavor of the flower is milder, but similar to the leaves of the same plant. Basil also has different varieties that have different milder flavors like lemon and mint.
  5. Borage – Blue star-shaped blossoms practically fall off the plant when they are ready to eat. They have a mild cucumber flavor that is delicious in lemonade
  6. Broccoli Florets (Brassica oleracea) – The top portion of broccoli is actually a cluster of flower buds. As the flower buds mature, each will open into a bright yellow flower, which is why they are called florets. Small yellow flowers have a mild spiciness (mild broccoli flavor), and are delicious in salads or in a stir-fry or steamer.
  7. Calendula – Petals known as the “poor man’s saffron,” the sunset-hued marigold flower really does taste like saffron when it’s sautéedin olive oil to release its flavor.
  8. Caper Buds
  9. Chamomile
  10. Chive Blossoms (Allium schoenoprasum) – Delicate, oniony flavor. Use whole flowers or separate the individual petals. Use whenever a light onion flavor and aroma is desired.  Separate the florets and enjoy the mild, onion flavor in a variety of dishes. Also see #1.
  11. Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They should be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar.  Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the  crown daisy, also known as chop suey greens or shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.
  12. Cilantro/Coriander (Coriander sativum) – Like the leaves and seeds, the flowers have a strong herbal flavor. Use leaves and flowers raw as the flavor fades quickly when cooked.
  13. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) – Member of the daisy family.  Flowers are sweetest, with a honey-like flavor, when picked young.  Mature flowers are bitter.  Dandelion buds are tastier than the flowers: best to pick these when they are very close to the ground, tightly bunched in the center, and about the size of a small gumball.
  14. Day Lilies (Hemerocallis species) – Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad.  In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus.
    NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation.
  15. Dill
  16. Echinacea
  17. Florence Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – It has a star-burst yellow flowers that have a mild anise flavor. Use with desserts or cold soups, or as a garnish with your entrees.
  18. Garlic Blossoms (Allium sativum) – The flowers can be white or pink, and the stems are flat instead of round. The flavor has a garlicky zing that brings out the flavor of your favorite food. Milder than the garlic bulb. Wonderful in salads. Also see #1.
  19. Henbit
  20. Hibiscus – Tart and sweet with a cranberry-like flavor. Often used in teas, cocktails, and salads.
  21. Hollyhock
  22. Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) – Sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible.
    NOTE: Berries are highly poisonous – Do not eat them!
  23. Jasmine (NOT Jessamine) – Very sweet, floral fragrance and flavor. Use in teas or desserts.Jasmine (jasmine officinale) – The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea.  True Jasmine has oval, shiny leaves and tubular, waxy-white flowers.  NOTE: The false Jasmine is in a completely different genus, “Gelsemium”, and family, “Loganiaceae”, is considered too poisonous for human consumption. This flower has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine, Carolina jasmine or jessamine, evening trumpet flower, gelsemium, and woodbine.
  24. Johnny-Jump-Ups – Minty, almost bubblegum-y flavor. Serve on cakes or with soft mild cheese, like goat cheese.
  25. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Sweet, slightly perfume-tasting, with lemon and citrus notes. Lavender lends itself to savory dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets.
    NOTE: Do not consume lavender oil unless you absolutely know that it has not be sprayed and is culinary safe.
  26. Lemon Verbena – Light lemon flavor that’s well-suited for sweet or savory cooking.
  27. Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) – The marigold can be used as a substitute for saffron. Also great in salads as they have a citrus flavor.
  28. Mallow
  29. Mint (Mentha spp) – The flavor of the flowers are minty, but with different overtones depending on the variety.  Mint flowers and leaves are great in Middle Eastern dishes.
  30. Nasturtiums – One of the most commonly eaten flowers. The flower may be vivid yellow, orange, or red as well as muted tones and bicolors. Both the leaves and the flowers have a peppery flavor, almost like watercress, and are best eaten uncooked. Toss petals into salads, top a sandwich, or make a spicy appetizer.
  31. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) – Also known as ochro, okoro, quimgombo, quingumbo, ladies fingers and gumbo. It has hibiscus-like flowers and seed pods that, when picked tender, produce a delicious vegetable dish when stewed or fried. When cooked it resembles asparagus yet it may be left raw and served in a cold salad. The ripe seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee; the seed can be dried and powdered for storage and future use.
  32. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) – Milder version of plant’s leaf. Use as you would the herb.
  33. Pansy/Viola (Viola X wittrockiana) – Slightly sweet green and faint grassy flavor. If you eat only the petals, the flavor is extremely mild, but if you eat the whole flower, there is a winter, green overtone.  Use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, green salad, desserts or in soups.
  34. Radish (Raphanus sativus) – Depending on the variety, flowers may be pink, white or yellow, and will have a distinctive, spicy bite (has a radish flavor). Best used in salads. The Radish shoots with their bright red or white tender stalks are very tasty and are great sauteed or in salads. Piquant pods can be eaten raw or cooked.
  35. Red Clover (Trifolium species) – Sweet, anise-like, licorice.  White and red clover blossoms were used in folk medicine against gout, rheumatism, and leucorrhea.  It was also believed that the texture of fingernails and toenails would improve after drinking clover blossom tea.  Native Americans used whole clover plants in salads, and made a white clover leaf tea for coughs and colds.  Avoid bitter flowers that are turning brown, and choose those with the brightest color, which are tastiest.  Raw flower heads can be difficult to digest.
  36. Rose –  While roses have a strong floral scent, their flavor is quite subtle and fruity. Roses lend themselves well to everything from soups and salads to teas, jams and desserts like this delicious strawberry, pomegranate, and rose petal treat. Roses only look beautiful in a bouquet, but pair well in some delicious dishes. Roses may be tasteless, sweet, perfumed, or slightly spicy. Chop the petals and mix with sugar. Let them infuse for a week and use for baking and desserts.
  37. Rosemary – Milder version of leaf. Fresh or dried herb and blossoms enhance flavor of Mediterranean dishes.  Use with meats, seafoods, sorbets or dressings.  Lemon Rosemary Chicken
  38. Sage – With their soft, yet sweet-savory flavor and beautiful color, sage flowers add dimension to a variety of dishes.
  39. Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species) – The flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety.  For example, a lemon-scented geranium would have lemon-scented flowers.  They come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels.  Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes.  NOTE: Citronelle variety may not be edible.
  40. Snap Dragon (Antirrhinum majus) – Delicate garden variety can be bland to bitter.  Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions.  Probably not the best flower to eat.
  41. Snow Pea Blossoms (Pisum species) – Edible garden peas bloom mostly in white, but may have other pale coloring. The blossoms are slightly sweet and crunchy and they taste like peas. The shoots and vine tendrils are edible, with a delicate, pea-like flavor. Here again, remember that harvesting blooms will diminish your pea harvest, so you may want to plant extra. NOTE: Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous – do not eat.
  42. Squash Blossoms – Mild raw squash taste. Usually cooked before eaten. Lightly dust with cornstarch and deep fry.
  43. Sunflower (Helianthus annus) – The flower is best eaten in the bud stage when it tastes similar to artichokes.  Once the flower opens, the petals may be used like chrysanthemums, the flavor is distinctly bittersweet.  The unopened flower buds can also be steamed like artichokes.
  44. Thyme
  45. Violets – Sweet and floral. Use in dessert or freeze into ice cubes for decorative drinking. Violets, which come in a range of pastel and vibrant colors,have a sweet and floral taste, making them a perfect companion for everything from salads to iced drinks. They are particularly beautiful when crystallized and used to top frosted cakes and other desserts.
  46. Zucchini Flowers – The bright yellow flowers of the courgette or zucchini plant have a delicate and slightly sweet taste




Sautéed Sweet Potato Vines and Swamp Cabbage?!

luluesque_sauteed water spinach-sweet potato leaves

Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatic) is an edible semiaquatic plant, cousin to the beautiful, but poisonous garden morning glory (Ipomaea violacea). They have a plethora of names, some of which include swamp cabbage, water morning glory, river spinach, and Chinese spinach. It’s the main staple food of many people and is the livelihood for many farmers in various Asian countries.

This seemingly harmless looking plant has made quite a reputation for itself in the last two decades. It spreads and grows aggressively quick, as much as 4” in one day, and has been known to clog up waterways, landing itself on the USDA list of noxious weeds. Even transporting it within state lines is illegal! In states such as Florida it is actually ILLEGAL, on a federal level, to be in possession of any part of water spinach. In other states like Texas, farmers must obtain an APHIS permit and adhere strictly to state regulations (e.g., no flowers can be present on the plants at any given time, plants cannot be within range of waterways, and plants can only be grown in greenhouses).

If you don’t reside in Florida, make your way to the Asian market and pick up a couple bundles and try out this veggie. If you happen to see these growing wild, by all means, please jump on the INVASIVORE bandwagon; if you can’t beat them, EAT them! 🙂

NOTE: Please do NOT discard unwanted parts of water spinach into your compost if you live in warmer climates and/or near any bodies of water. Mother Nature (birds, squirrels, et.c) has a way of transplanting things. The plant can sprout roots and grow from the stem nodes. 


  • 2 bundles water spinach ~ procured from an eco-conscious, reputable, legal source
  • 1 bundle sweet potato vines
  • 5 cloves garlic ~ peeled, minced
  • ½ red onion ~ peeled, sliced thinly
  • cooking oil ~ I’m using a coconut/canola blend
  • white wine ~ I used Chardonnay
  • organic tamari
  • chili peppers


  1. Thoroughly wash your veggies in a tub of water. Rinse 2-3 times to remove any dirt or critters (e.g., aphids, caterpillars).
  2. Pick the leaves from the stems for both the water spinach and sweet potato vines. Separate into two piles: stems and leaves (tender young stems should be in this pile as well). Cut the stems into 2” sections.
  3. In your pan, heat some cooking oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until partially cooked. Add minced garlic and sauté until a light golden brown.
  4. Add the stems and sauté until they turn a brighter green.
  5. Add the leaves.
  6. Splash some white wine on top of the leaves and quickly cover the pan. Leave lid on for a few minutes.
  7. Remove lid and turn off the stove.
  8. Add some tamari and gently toss the mixture.
  9. Serve this dish hot with sliced red chilis. YUM!

Article Research Sources:

Invasivore: Eco-Gastronomic Movement

There is a relatively new eco-gastronomic movement that has quietly hit the scenes like a superhero, doing good deeds in the night while the rest of humanity slumbers peacefully: invasivore.

It is exactly what it sounds like: devouring, consuming invasive species. The focus is on sourcing invasive species for food, while simultaneously helping the environment. It’s brilliant. The world population has exploded to exponential proportion, food sources are being rapidly depleted, and globalization has introduced foreign species into new ecosystems, wreaking havoc on indigenous species and the natural balance.

Of course, the matter is more complex than simply, “If you can’t beat ‘em, EAT ‘em!” It’s also about helping the ecosystem thrive as peacefully as possible, by removing invasive species without causing more harm to the affected area. For instance, the lionfish invasion is one of the worst environmental disasters to the Atlantic Ocean. These exotic predators are voracious, consuming anything that can fit in their mouths. They have virtually no natural predators and a female can lay up to 200 eggs per year. They have taken haven among delicate coral reefs. The trick is capturing them without damaging the reefs.

Outside magazine’s April 2014 edition features an article (“Waiter, There’s a Lionfish in My Soup”) about Chef Bun Lai, owner of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut. He transitioned his once-traditional sushi menu into one that no longer offers client-favorites like bluefin tuna and scallops. Rather, he sources his own ingredients by diving, scouring, harvesting, and being one of the first pioneers for offering a menu where the culinary stars are invasive species.

This eco-culinary movement adds new depth to traveling, foraging, and culinary adventures! 🙂

Some invasive species include:

  • Asian shore crab
  • burdock
  • field mustard
  • garlic mustard
  • lamb’s quarters (don’t worry, it’s not a cute animal’s legs)
  • lionfish
  • Louisiana crayfish
  • purslane
  • wild fennel

Inspiring Sources:

Wild Edible Adventure

luluesque.wordpress.com-wild edible plants

Happy 2014, y’all!

It’s a new year, why not embark on new culinary adventures: WILD EDIBLES! Ever heard of burdock, purslane, morel, wood sorrel, and borage? If not, check out the following links at the end of this blog and/or do your own research. You get brownie points if you can guess the wild edibles embedded in my graphic above!

You will be astonished at the availability of food for us foraging vegetarians and veggie-lovers! In fact, when I visited a Farmer’s Market in Portland, OR, I saw chickweed and henbit — “backyard weeds” that I’d uprooted from my own garden countless times before! At a vegan, raw food restaurant in Austin, TX, I noticed there were Lamb’s Quarters (no, it’s not what you think) mixed into my salad! On a hike in the Ozark Mountains region of NW Arkansas, I crossed a flowing stream with clusters of watercress, beckoning my name. In college, a friend and I used to go hunting for wild morel mushrooms early in the morning, after a thunderstorm from the night before. All along the roadsides of a quaint Peloponnesian town in Greece, I found plenty of chamomile soaking up the Mediterannean sun! And you cannot imagine my delightful surprise when I discovered that the Jamaican street fare, callaloo pies, were actually made with amaranth! When I was a child, we used to go foraging for wild amaranth so that my sweet Mama could make soup for dinner. It truly is simply amazing how much wild, edible food is just right beneath your feet, or within reach right in your own backyard! You just have to look! 🙂

CAUTION: Do NOT CONSUME anything you are not 150% CERTAIN is a wild edible. I and the authors and photographers of these websites are not accountable. If you are interested in becoming a forager, do LOTS of research, or consult an expert.

Here are some very informative websites for starters. Thank-you to these wonderful bloggers/contributors!

If you know of any cool sites/books with quality photographs and/or illustrations, please share that intel with me and readers of this blog!

Foraging Fun: Wild Dewberries

luluesque-wild dewberries

There are wild, edible plants and fruits throughout your town or city. You just have to know where to look, when to go foraging, and how to identify them. My parents are avid gardeners and know their plants, trees, and flowers. They are not Botanists; they grow their own produce, visit farmer’s markets, nurseries, and speak to and learn from other gardeners & experts. All this has taught them enough to find delicious edibles from watercress, wild onions, purslane, to mustard greens. They taught me a thing or two so that I may have my own foraging adventures! 🙂

I found these beautiful wild dewberries on one of my hikes. They very much resemble blackberries, both of which belong to the genus Rubus, a large family of flowering plants that belong to the rose family.

Both dewberry and blackberry plants are prevalent along woodland borders and have sharp bristles all along their stems and branches. The simplest way to distinguish between the two varieties is by noting how the branches grow: dewberry plants are trailing while blackberries have an arching cane. The white, 5-petal flowers bloom March through April and start to bear fruit from May to June, depending on weather conditions. The fruit turn from a bright green to a deep purple. You can enjoy them fresh, preserved, baked in muffins, frozen and blended with other berries to make a delicious smoothie, or baked in a pie.

Illustration_Rubus_idaeus0{photo courtesy of WikiMedia}

Foraging Fun: Wild Onions


In my neck of the suburban woods, springtime in the meadows and park areas are a thicket of bluebonnets, daisies, indian paintbrushes, rain lilies, verbena, blue-eyed grass, and…WILD ONIONS! 🙂 I get so excited when I am out and about and spot edibles. I picked a whole bunch of these delicious gifts from Mother Nature. Thus far, I have added the unopened buds to my soups and the buds that have formed little “onions” on top have been sautéed, baked with fish, or stir-fried. Delicious.

In the last picture, I have bunashimeji mushrooms, wild onion flowers, and turnips. The fish will go on top so that the veggies below get infused with flavor as they bake in the oven for 45 minutes @ 375°F.