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Crystallised flowers

From shrinking violets found in April, nestling in sheltered corners, to late summer’s bounty of sensuous garden lavender, many flowers can be snitched away to lavish upon iced or otherwise unadorned cakes. Do take care though, not all flowers are edible. Stick to familiar faces such as primroses, roses, borage, jasmine, violas, nasturtiums, cornflowers, sage or tiny thyme flowers. You can extend their lives by crystallising them in sugar. Store them away and they can bring new life to your baking, even in deep winter.


For some, preparing these may seem a bit of a fiddle, but the time spent gathering and preparing the flowers pales into insignificance when you consider their lasting ethereal beauty.

Primroses, violets, violas, apple blossom, rose petals and borage all respond well to the crystallising process. However, in all cases, success depends on both the flowers and the sugar being perfectly dry.

Pick the flowers on a dry, sunny day when they are fully open. Remove the stalks. Pour a lightly beaten (but not frothy) egg white into a saucer. Have another saucer of caster sugar beside it.

Using tweezers, dip the flower heads or petals first into the egg white and then into the sugar. Use a fine paintbrush to tease the sugar into any crinkles and hollows within the flower.

Shake off any excess sugar before laying the flowers on a sheet of baking parchment. Place in a warm, dry and airy spot to dry for 24–48 hours.

When fully dry, store the crystallised flowers carefully between layers of baking parchment or greaseproof paper in an airtight container.

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  • Flowers such as primroses, roses, borage, jasmine, violas, nasturtiums, cornflowers, sage or tiny thyme flowers
  • Egg white
  • Caster sugar

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Cakes Handbook

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