Monday, March 7, 2022

Thai Double Blue Butterfly Pea

The 'Blue Butterfly Pea' is an edible, blue flowered, vining plant, native to Southeast Asia. The vines are smothered in dazzling indigo petals. The flowers are used as a natural food dye and soothing tea to calm the nerves. The double flowered type seed I grew was found in Thailand, where blooms are used to dye everything from teas to rice and desserts. Butterfly pea has a mild, floral flavor and a most intense natural color making it a novelty culinary ingredient.

At the beginning of Covid lock downs in 2020, I received 'The Baker Creek Seed Catalogue' as a gift. I was really impressed at their speed of delivery, impressive selection of rare and unusual seeds and free shipping! I published a Blog March 2020 with my selection of seeds. Since then I have grown and tried all of the seeds, some not very easy to start or grow and as one of my clients said, "... these seeds are rare ...and difficult to grow is one reason why." Also this year shipping is no longer free, there is now a set rate charged.

Grown in a sheltered space

Previous to finding the seeds in this catalogue, I had been unsuccessfully searching for 'Blue Butterfly Pea' flowers for tea and to color food and beverages. When brewed into a tea, it is a beautiful blue color ... add lemon juice and the color transforms in front of your eyes to pink. Desserts, beverages, ice cubes, hard boiled eggs, pasta and rice can also be colored blue with these incredible little flowers. 

Blue Butterfly Pea tea changes color when lemon juice is added

You can purchase the dried flowers online in various forms; teabags, dried whole flowers and powdered. Or grow the plants from seed, save and dry the flowers for special occasions or package and give as gifts to your foodie friends... or use them fresh.

I have seen 2 different methods to color white rice: add the rice and water to a rice cooker and add 3-4 fresh flowers, stir then turn the rice cooker to the 'Cook' position ... or to use dried flowers ... steep the tea, cool; add rice and use the cooled tea instead of water. The steeped, cooled then strained tea method was used to cook this beautiful Blue Thai Jasmine Rice. 

Blue Butterfly Pea Tea used to cook Thai Jasmine Rice
Butterfly Pea is a tropical perennial that can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. It is most commonly started from seed but I found it spotty to germinate even after scarifying the seeds and soaking over night. My efforts and frustration were worth the effort. I was thrilled to grow, collect and dry a small jar of the flowers for my culinary use. The plants prefer full sunlight and will trail freely along the ground or up a trellis or stakes. A beautiful, rewarding gardening and culinary experience!

Until next time ... it sure feels like Spring is in the air, looking forward to garden season!
Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae 

2 comments:

  1. The colour puts me in mind of Victoria Gin. Beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The color is beautiful indeed and the flavor is more 'floral' than the Gin!!

    ReplyDelete