Friday, February 03, 2012

I Love This Blue Flower!

I have this climbing creeper plant called Clitoria Ternetea or Butterfly Pea Flower or Bunga Telang (in Malay) in my garden for many reasons. This blue flower is one of my favourite flowers of all. Its intense indigo makes me happy (I have always loved strongly coloured fruits and flowers...I don't know why).

Clitoria ternetea flowers 

One, you add precious nutrients into the soil when you plant this on the ground. Two, the flowers are used to colour food naturally. The blue Nyonya kuih made with glutinous rice was in the olden days coloured with pounded juice from this pea flower (I sometimes wonder if they use blue dye these days!). Even "Nyonya zhang" or the Chinese dumpling can be coloured with this blue flower. 

Third, the flower can be made into a drink that's full of antioxidants. Fourth, you can use the blue flowers to dye your hair (haven't tried this yet).

As a drink, I just pluck about 5 to 8 fresh flowers and steep with hot water for about 5 minutes. When it's ready, just add some honey and drink up. It doesn't have much aroma or taste. The flowers do fade to a pale white when the water turns blue! Interesting isn't it? You can do a bit of a magic trick too if you serve this in a glass. Just before serving, squeeze some lime juice into the glass and watch the colour change! It's like litmus paper!

The dried pea pod with seeds 

When I was in Thailand, I've seen shampoos which use this clitoria flower as its hair darkening ingredient.

Aren't they just lovely?

The clitoria ternetea is easy to grow. As it is a pea, germinate its seeds and in no time you will have a few plants. It needs to climb though so you may want to plant it near some fence or trellis. The plant flowers regularly and attracts butterflies although the flowers don't last very long (perhaps a day or two before they wilt).

To keep these flowers, just pluck and dry them thoroughly. They'll shrivel as they dry but it's OK. You can then keep them in your fridge (wrap them up in tissue paper and put into an airtight container). When you need some natural blue dye for your food, reconstitute them in hot water again so they release their blue colour.

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