Go to any women’s clothing store and you’ll notice: Floral prints are having a moment right now. Shirts and skirts and dresses — and even men’s clothing — are festooned with flowers, in prints that are a throwback to the ‘60s or ‘90s. In the words of “The Devil Wears Prada’s” icy editor in chief Miranda Priestly: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”
But here’s an area in which florals are actually novel. The trend is also sprouting up in food and, especially, beverages. It’s a natural evolution of several previous trends, including our love for rainbow colors and all things pink. “Food, like fashion, is driven by trends, seasonality and the occasional gust of hype,” said food writer Lee Tran Lam in Australian Vogue. Floral flavors were one of the biggest trend predictions for 2018, and one that has borne out right on time: just as those April showers bring May flowers.
Like spring crocuses, floral foods are starting to pop up in mainstream consumer products. The flavors you’re most likely to see are lavender, hibiscus and elderflower — each with its own distinct botanical flavor.
These are tiny white flowers that smell like perfume and honey. You probably know them from the liqueur St-Germain. You might also find it in gin, and it’s a flavor that pairs really well with gin cocktails.
Try it in: Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Lemonade, Blue Ridge Bucha’s elderflower sunrise kombucha.
There are a lot of flowers in the hibiscus family, but they are found in tropical and subtropical climates. Hibiscus flowers have been used for tea throughout history in many parts of the world, and they play a role in the cuisine of several cultures, especially in central America. They have a tart, berry flavor.
Try it in: Farmhouse Culture’s strawberry hibiscus “gut punch” sparkling probiotic veggie drink, Potter’s craft grapefruit hibiscus cider, Rishi hibiscus berry tea, Whole Foods’s 365 tropical hibiscus fruit bars.
It’s a divisive flavor, because some people can think it tastes like soap. But it’s gained popularity as the lavender latte, which uses lavender syrup, has become an unexpected coffee shop hit.
Try it in: Lavender lattes at your local coffee shop, lavender honey, Ice Cream Jubilee’s honey lemon lavender ice cream.
Other floral flavors you might encounter include orange blossoms, roses, violets and nasturtiums. Also sprouting in popularity: edible flowers as a decoration on salads and cakes (like my colleague Becky Krystal’s take on the royal wedding cake, here). When you buy edible flowers, make sure they were grown specifically for culinary use — you’ll want to avoid flowers that were sprayed with pesticides or chemicals. Your local farmers market is a great place to start. We got ours from the District’s Little Wild Things City Farm. A mix of violas, pansies and other assorted flowers, they have a mild arugula taste.
Try it in: Charm City Meadworks’s sweet blossom mead, Whole Foods’s 365 raspberry geranium fruit bars, Gideon Spring wildflower blossom honey.