Forage Palo Verde Flowers

Palo verde trees are blooming!  And you can use the bountiful blossoms in many ways.

The O’odham name for this April-ish month is Uam Masad which roughly translates to the “yellow month.”  Across the Sonoran Desert, this is certainly the case – with palo verde, brittle bush, paperflower, creosote, desert marigold, all bloom in march and April – into May in some areas.    All these various desert flowers cloak the slopes in a glowing golden yellow mantle, rippling in the spring breezes.    On a still day, the sound of the various species of native bees working their way through this bounty is a symphony of delight to my ears.

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Harvest the Bounty

One edible yellow flower that’s tasty and easy to use are the abundant palo verde flowers.    The flowers are slightly sweet and have a delicate taste of snow peas.

Not All Palo Verde Are the Same

The common name “palo verde” can refer to a number of species, including
Mexican paloverde (Parkinsonia aculeata)
blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida)
foothill palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla)
palo brea (Parkinsonia praecox)
Texas palo verde (Parkinsonia texana)
and the Desert Museum hybrid paloverde (Parkinsonia X ‘Desert Museum’)

I told you that – so I could tell you this.    All of these species have edible flowers.  BUT.  The palatability or tastiness of the flowers varies!

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Once fallen from the tree, the flowers make a pretty carpet – but should not be used due to possible soil-borne pathogens.

This variation is highly dependent on species – but also on growing conditions.    Sample before you harvest.    Some are tough and stringy, some are large and flavorful. The ones near my hose are quite tasty because they get extra water. The ones along my daily desert walk are less tasty.

Forage Palo Verde Flowers

Since the flowers are relatively small, compared to other edible flowers like pansy and nasturtium, I wanted to formulate dishes where I could harvest many flowers in a single swipe along the branch – then use them en mass.    After some experimenting, my favorite is Palo Verde Flower Soup.    This soup is also good late in the season when hands-full of flowers are intermixed with small developing palo verde beans (like in these pictures).

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The twiggy bits removed from the forage.

You can also eat the green, developing palo verde beans steamed – much like you would eat green edamame beans. Mature and brown palo verde beans are very high in lectins which pose a health risk. More about that in our article Beware of Beans. We also have a YouTube video about palo verde beans.

Flower Harvest

If you have digestion issues, I suggest you skip the beans and just use the flowers. The flowers are plenty fine. Honey from the flowers is good too, as Savorist and beekeeper Monica can tell you.  She also does bee swarm removal – in case you are having an issue.

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Every year I harvest a jar full of palo verde flowers and then fill the jar with vinegar and tuck it away in the back of the pantry for at least six weeks. Once well infused, this makes a great vinegar for a salad dressing with a hint of sweet. I also make palo verde capers (online post fallen to hackers – but they didn’t get ourYouTube video.)

But back to the soup I created. It is a wonderful fast soup to make to help rehydrate you and soothe hunger pains while you are preparing a more robust meal.

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Palo Verde Flower Soup

1 cup fresh palo verde flowers
1 quart liquid of choice (water, vegetable stock, chicken stock)
1 tablespoon oil of choice (helps better develop the flavor)
herbs to taste (use mild herbs so not to overpower the delicate flower flavor)
sea salt to taste

If you harvest flowers with petioles (stems), remove the tough and bitter petioles.

Give everything a good dicing to help release the flavor and make any potentially fibrous bits small and edible.

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Optionally, sauté the herbs in the oil first to develop the flavor.

Add one quart liquid.

Bring to a boil and turn off as soon as it boils.
Avoid over-heating the flowers, they can become bitter.

Remove from heat.

Let sit for 10 minutes to meld flavors together and finish cooking the soup.

Serve.
Enjoy!

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Palo verde bud capers. On our YouTube.

Three Reasons Why Soup is Good – Even in Summer

Many Americans are not used to the concept of soup before a meal, but it makes sense for three main reasons – even in summer, like as is popular in much of the world. Our Summer Soup post.

First.  Home-made soups are high in trace minerals, helping replace the electrolytes lost to perspiration during the day (especially in our climate).

Second. The American Institute of Health estimates that 1 out of 5 Americans is clinically dehydrated, in other words, dehydrated enough to interfere with our body’s ability to function properly.

Third.  For folks trying to lose weight, the hormones signaling hunger take about 20 minutes to become canceled out by eating.    Starting a meal with soup means that your hormones have more of a chance to tell you that you’ve had enough without overeating.

Here’s The Honey Cookbook!

savor-honey-bookMay we suggest our dandy little cookbook?   Using Honey in New and Savory Ways offers 36 pages of tips for using honey in your cooking, as well as in all manner of dishes. A steal at only $6!

We hope you will help support some local Southwest folks!
From the review:
“Honey is for more than desserts and this book can help! Using honey in cooking savory dishes helps engage all your taste buds and adds a layer of added flavor to everyday dishes – plus holiday fare.”

Beekeeper?  We offer volume discounts – because if you sell honey in local markets you might want to offer some of these books as well.

Legal Note

© Article copyright Savor the Southwest // Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

Disclaimer

The authors of this website have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.

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