Using Redbuds in Edible Applications

If you are in zone 4 or 5, you will probably be noticing a beautiful purple haze spreading in the forest right about now.  If you look closely, you’ll see that those purple hazes are actually little flower buds on a tree aptly named “redbud”.  Of course, the name isn’t totally accurate in that the buds are much more purple and pink as opposed to red, but nobody gives “red” onions a hard time either, so we’ll let it slide.

pantry peach pie by Amy ReneaThe most interesting aspect of redbuds is that the flowers will appear on the branches, but also along the bark of the trunk.  Second most interesting fact?  They are edible.  The little buds don’t have a strong flavor, just a woodsy, floral taste, but they are perfect for jazzing up a classic dish like peach pie. Doesn’t the pink play off the peach tones beautifully?

This is my classic pantry peach pie, made from ingredients I already had an hand and beautified with a sprinkling of redbud.  Any old cake mix, frozen pie crust canned fruit or even the classic fruit crumble can go from plain old boring dessert to fresh and inviting, simply by adding a few fresh herbs or edible flowers.  This spring, you might try planting nasturtium, mint, lemon balm or rosemary for quick and easy fresh pops for your summer menu.

If you would like to add redbud to your garden, you are not alone!  Eastern redbud is one of the most popular ornamental trees in America.   It can be grown as a standard tree or a multi-trunked bush, topping out at about 15-25 feet as a tree and shorter as a bush.  The leaves in summer are a beautiful deep green, smooth textured, in the shape of a heart (who doesn’t like heart shaped leaves?).  The Arbor Day Foundation will send you 10 free redbud whips (tiny redbud trees that look like sticks, but grow into elegant trees in a few years) when you sign up for a membership ($10).  Do the math and that is $1 a tree.  You can also propagate redbuds by taking 6″ cuttings from the new growth in spring and planting them in a potting mix or simply in the ground.  About 50% of cuttings will take with this technique, so cut more than you eventually want.

In any case, beg borrow or steal a few redbuds this spring and toss them on any sweet dish for a bold burst of color and a subtle burst of flavor. Then don’t forget to close your eyes when you savor the first bite of warm peach pie. Luscious.

About Amy Renea

Amy is a freelance photographer and writer based out of Hershey, PA. She spends her days chasing children and chickens around the back yard, sipping on dandelion tea and munching on sweet potato chips. Come visit the Nest for All Seasons to learn more about her food, photography, DIY designs and modern garden living!

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