Dishes Inspired by Florida’s Flora

We celebrate the Sunshine State’s vibrant flora with recipes that spotlight these unique ingredients

Sandy beaches, coastal wetlands, and swampy marshes make up the diverse Southwest Florida terrain. This backyard jungle is the perfect home for a treasure trove of exotic fruits and plants. The luscious guava, tart hog plum, wholesome Seminole pumpkin, tangy sea grape, creamy Florida avocado, and striking beauty berry are among the region’s homegrown bounty. Here, we celebrate the Sunshine State’s vibrant flora with recipes that spotlight these unique ingredients.

Guava and Honey Sorbet. Photo by Gyorgy Papp
Guava and Honey Sorbet. Photo by Gyorgy Papp

Guava and Honey Sorbet 

This refreshing dessert is at once light and rich with tropical flavors


  • 6 large guavas
  • 3/4 cup honey or agave syrup
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • Juice of 2 limes

Halve the guavas and scrape out all the pulp. Measure 3/4 cup of the pulp. In a small saucepan, combine the honey or agave syrup and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the guava pulp, orange juice, and lime juice. Set aside to cool. 

Add mixture to a blender and pulse. Pour the syrup into a resealable container and chill for at least 2 hours. Stir the syrup and then pour it into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, pour the mixture into a shallow glass dish and freeze for 4 hours, scraping the mixture every 30 minutes with the tines of a fork. Serve in a coupe glass or freeze directly into the halved guava shells.

More About Guava

Guava trees have a long history in the southern part of the state, with Spanish explorers introducing them in the early sixteenth century. Guava is typically harvested from fall to early winter. Incredibly versatile, guava can be used in a range of dishes, including preserves, smoothies, ices, and pastries.

Sunshine Citrus Avocado Salad. Photo by Gyorgy Papp
Sunshine Citrus Avocado Salad. Photo by Gyorgy Papp

Sunshine Citrus Avocado Salad

This salad brings together the creaminess of Florida avocado, the tanginess of local citrus, and the crunch of watermelon radishes.


  • 1/2 cup local greens and sprouts
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1 Meyer lemon, peeled and segmented
  • 1 Florida avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium watermelon radish, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. quick-pickled red onions
  • 1/4 cup blackberries
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Honey lime vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp. black sesame seeds

Layer the greens and sprouts, segmented citrus, avocado slices, and watermelon radishes on a plate. Add the onions and blackberries, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with honey lime vinaigrette and finish with a peppering of black sesame seeds for contrast.

Honey Lime Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Florida-made honey (such as Palm Beach Creamed Honey)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil

Whisk together the lime juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified.

More About Florida Avocados 

Known for their large size and smooth skin, Florida avocados have been cultivated in the state since pre-Columbian times, when they were introduced by indigenous people from the Caribbean. Harvested from June to January, Florida avocados are great in smoothies, guacamole, and salads.

Seminole Pumpkin Soup. Photo by Gyorgy Papp
Seminole Pumpkin Soup. Photo by Gyorgy Papp

Seminole Pumpkin Soup

Served with a dollop of sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds, this velvety soup showcases this native pumpkin’s creamy texture and natural sweetness.


  • 1 4-lb. Seminole pumpkin
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • Sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Halve the pumpkin and slice each half once more. Brush the flesh with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place the pumpkin slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Once cooled, scoop out the flesh. In a pot, add the remaining 3 tbsp. olive oil and sauté the on- ions and garlic over medium heat until they are translucent. Add the pumpkin flesh, vegetable broth, cumin, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes until the flavors meld together.

Transfer everything to a blender and puree the soup until smooth.

Stir in the heavy cream and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds for added crunch.

More About Seminole Pumpkins

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has cultivated Seminole pumpkins for centuries. From late summer to early winter, look for mature pumpkins with a vibrant orange color. The sweet Seminole pumpkin can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, including within soups and pies, or roasted as a side vegetable.

Pickled Wild Plums and Sea Grapes. Photo by Gyorgy Papp
Pickled Wild Plums and Sea Grapes. Photo by Gyorgy Papp

Pickled Wild Plums and Sea Grapes

A delicious mingling of sweet, sour, and salty, this combination of wild plums, sea grapes, onions, and pickling blend might be the most authentic taste of the state.


  • 2 lb. wild plums, halved
  • 2 lb. sea grapes
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole allspice
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pack the plum halves, sea grapes, and red onion slices into sterilized canning jars. In a large stainless-steel saucepan, combine the water and red wine vinegar and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, and salt. Return to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat and pour hot liquid over the plums, sea grapes, and red onions in jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let cool. Keep on the counter for 2 days then transfer to the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

More About Sea Grapes and Hog Plums

Sea grapes have been a popular fruit along Florida’s coastline for centuries. The clusters of red, grape-like fruits are typically found on sandy shores and barrier islands, mainly from late summer to fall. Just remember that, like mangroves, sea grapes growing along Florida’s coast are protected and cannot be picked and consumed without a permit. Hog plums, also known as wild or Spanish plums, are also indigenous to Florida. Both have a long history of consumption by Native American tribes.

Beauty Berry Compote. Photo by Gyorgy Papp
Beauty Berry Compote. Photo by Gyorgy Papp

Beauty Berry Compote

This vibrant, simple compote is the perfect sweet topping to spotlight this wild native’s one-of-a-kind color and flavor.


  • 3 cups fresh beauty berries
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger (optional)

Remove any stems from the berries. Place the berries in a saucepan along with the lemon juice, sugar, orange zest, and ginger if using. Cook over medium heat until the berries release their juice and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, transfer the compote to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Add a tbsp. of chia seeds for a thicker, jam-like consistency. Uses vary but can include over doughnuts, pancakes, yogurt, or ice cream.

More About Beauty Berries

The beauty berry is native to Florida and thrives in various soil types. These vivid berries have a long history in Native American culture and were recognized by the Cherokee and Creek tribes for their medicinal properties, including to treat colic and dysentery.

Special Thanks

A big thank you to Daniel Ramos of Red Splendor Farm and Sierra Monk Malnove of Palm Beach Creamed Honey for being an important resource and allowing us to forage these wild edibles directly on their land.

Facebook Comments