Monday, August 24, 2009


Clove Pink - The herb of Shakespeare
Books go out to all who wrote and correctly identified this week's NTH.

Chuck writes: This little flower takes me back to my Aunt Bea's (yes not only Andy Taylor of Mayberry had an Aunt Bea) little front garden planter. Both she and Mom liked all forms of Dianthus, but especially those with lots of fragrance. Bea had a hardy clump of clove pinks there in the planter alongside old-style petunias that became really fragrant about dusk. They were big fans of porch sitting, so as a kid not much interested in their grownup conversations, I got plenty of time to check out what was growing there, before it got totally dark or the mosquitoes drove us inside.

Your photo looks like a very primitive, single carnation, especially the foliage, but I suppose it could be one of the other Dianthus. I can almost smell the spicy fragrance from down here below the border.

But I thought true pinks were the primitive, single variety and the big, showy versions are referred to as carnations?

One of this week's winners, Keena used my hint about gillyflower. Here's what she has to say:

a quick internet search of "gillyflower" brings up a Encyclopedia

Britannica article: "any of several scented flowering plants,

especially the carnation, or clove pink (Dianthus caryophyllus), stock

(Matthiola incana), and wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri). However, the

gillyflower of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare was the carnation."

your image is specifically that of the pink, though.

Clove Pink (Dianthus caryophyllus) What's in a name, eh? Well in this particular name, as in most, a lot. First off, the term 'pink' doesn't refer to the color of the plant, instead it is referring to the serrated edges of the flowers. To create these edges in fabric, one uses 'pinking sheers', pink meaning zig-zag or serrated.
Anyone who has ever smelled these delightful herbs knows that they emit the most delicious odor resembling cloves, caryophyllum being the Latin name for the spice we call cloves.

Many of you mentioned that they were most familiar with the salmon-colored pinks and I am as well, this vibrant pink color you see in my photo above, being unexpected in the plants I put in the garden this year. I can tell you, that when I made my clove pink syrup from my salmon pinks, the syrup turned a beautiful burgundy color, so the deep red pigments must somehow be lurking in the petals of even the salmon-colored pinks.

For those of you who are surprised to learn that you can eat these wonderful flowers, they have been used in the past to flavor wine. A word of caution: do not try eating the carnations in your next floral arrangement. They will have been sprayed and treated with chemicals to make them last longer.

If you grow clove pinks, try my recipe for syrup. You can use it to flavor drinks in the same way as you would use Grenadine. Drizzle it on ice cream or puddings or use as a coulis. The color is amazing. Gently rinse the flowers under cool water and pat dry. Gently pull the petals away and discard the sepals and stems. You can half this recipe if you only have 1/2 cup petals.

This is essentially a simple syrup that will thicken as the sugar is heated in the water. Don't over boil or you will get soft candy.

Clove Pink Syrup
1 cup fresh clove pink petals
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

1. In a saucepan, combine clove pink petals, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the syrup thickens, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Pour into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Label and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment


All photographs and recipes are original and copyrighted to Pat Crocker. Pat invites you to use her recipes and share with family and friends. Please contact Pat Crocker for express permission for commercial, internet, or other use of her photographs and recipes.