I have fond memories of gardenias growing up. My mother loved them, and she would pick them when she could and put them in a little vase in the house. The whole living room would fill with that wonderful scent.
In Japan, the non-horticultural variety can commonly be found in traditional house gardens. It is called “Kuchinashi” or “No mouth”, and can be found in the US as perhaps the Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia — the flower looks quite similar. The flowers have five petals, and smell just as delicious. Instead of the many more petals, energy goes to making a lively-colored orange fruit in the late fall. Inside, a mass of red seeds and mush can be found. If you touch it when it’s fresh, your fingers will get dyed yellow.
This is a powerful yellow dye, traditionally used in all sorts of foods, and in not so traditional foods as well; it can be found commonly just like yellow #5 on normal supermarket foods and beverages.
This bright dye is used during times of festivity, including New Year’s. It is used in a dish that I decided to make today called Kuri Kinton.
2 Gardenia fruits
Yam or Sweet Potatoes: 500 grams
Sweet chestnuts, cooked: 12
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Mirin: 5 Tbsp
Honey: 2 Tbsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
-A teabag or something to put the Gardenia fruit into, a pot, a yam smashing utensil.
Peel and slice the yams and put to soak into cool water. Slice the Gardenia fruits up one side and put inside a teabag. Crush.
Get the other ingredients ready.
Drain the yams. Rinse. Add enough water to them in the pot to barely cover them. Place the teabag in, stir. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until soft. They should be a bright golden yellow.
Drain. Add half the sugar and smash until smooth while hot.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat while stirring until the alcohol evaporates (about 4 – 5 minutes).
Smooth it into a bowl or container and enjoy.
… I think adding some vanilla, a little cinnamon, and some pralines or roasted pecans on top would be delicious!