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Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook available exclusively at Kew

Cicely Henderson
19 July 2013
'Kew’s Global Kitchen Cookbook' celebrates the glorious variety of edible plants, with 101 recipes from around the world, richly illustrated with botanical art. The book is available to buy exclusively at Kew, including online, until October 2013. Take a look inside and find out more about the author.

Introducing 'Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook'

Over the centuries the world’s cuisines have developed and changed, reflecting the way humans have explored the world and exploited its plant resources. It is a thrilling story in which explorers, plant smugglers and colonists all played a role, motivated by the desire for tasty, abundant and nutritious food. Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook tells this story with a unique combination of historical essays, delicious recipes, and beautiful illustrations from Kew's Archives.

The cover of Kew’s Global Kitchen Cookbook which features 101 recipes from around the world. (Credit: RBG Kew)

About the author

Carolyn Fry is a journalist and author specialising in science, conservation and natural history. A former editor of Geographical (the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society), she is a contributor to New Scientist, BBC Wildlife, Guardian Unlimited (environment) and Kew magazine, and is the author of The Plant Hunters (Andre Deutsch) and The Last Great Plant Hunt (Kew Publishing). 

Her introduction to the book describes the gradual spread of edible plants around the world, through farming and human exploration. Each of the following chapters opens with an essay investigating the edible history of the different regions of the world and describing the unique plants of each continent.

Recipe for orange vacherin accompanied with botanical art from Kew's Acrhives (Image: RBG Kew)

Delicious recipes and historical illustrations

The book's 101 recipes match the diversity of our edible flora, explaining in detail how to create dishes such as parsnip tart, truffle crepes, Cincinnati chilli, orange vacherin, Kashmiri fish curry, plantation smoothie, sweetcorn and crab fritters, and pineapple cheesecake with chilli. The recipes are sourced from past issues of Kew Magazine and range from healthy and unusual salads and soups to hearty main dishes and sumptuous desserts. Each of the plants featured has its own story of travel and adventure, and historical, botanical and economic themes are brought to life through the text.

In addition, the book contains over 140 beautiful botanical paintings carefully selected from Kew's vast archive of historical illustrations, showing how these exotic plants were viewed by some of the earliest European explorers and artists.

Pineapple illustration from the 1705 book, Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium (Image: RBG Kew)

Sample recipe - Pineapple cheesecake with chilli

Native to South America, pineapples were first introduced to Europe by Columbus as the ‘pina de Indias’. Rich in manganese and vitamin C, delicious raw or cooked, they feature in many cuisines. Jane Suthering’s tasty dessert, included in the book, uses the pineapple's sweet juice to balance the bite of hot chilli. Serves 6–8.

12 digestive biscuits, crushed
75g (3oz) unsalted butter, melted
40ml (8 tsp) pineapple juice
10ml (2 tsp) powdered gelatine
500g (1lb) cream (or curd) cheese
50g (2oz) icing sugar, sifted
60ml (2½fl oz) light rum
75g (3oz) caster sugar
10ml (2 tsp) fresh lime juice
¼ of a large, medium ripe pineapple (or ½ of a small/medium one), peeled and thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 large red chilli, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped

1. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter and press on to the base of a 19cm (8in) spring-release tin. Chill.
2. Put the pineapple juice and gelatine into a small saucepan and leave to soak for 2–3 mins, then warm over the gentlest heat until dissolved.
3. Beat the cream cheese with the icing sugar, then slowly beat in the rum. Stir a spoonful of this mixture into the gelatine, and then slowly mix that back into the bulk of the cheese mixture. Spoon on to the biscuit base and level the surface. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.
4. Meanwhile, dissolve the caster sugar in 100ml (3½fl oz) of water, then bring to the boil. Add the lime juice, prepared pineapple and chilli, and bring back to the boil. Immediately switch off the heat and leave the syrup to go cold.
5. Remove the cheesecake from its mould and decorate the top with the drained pineapple. Serve the syrup separately.

Where to see the plants

Many of the plants featured in Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook can be seen at the IncrEdibles festival, in particular at the Global Kitchen Garden and at the Rose Garden Tea Party.


Photo of the Global Kitchen Garden
Andrew McRobb (RBG, Kew)

The Global Kitchen Garden featuring many of the plants included in Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook (Photo: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew)

Also, the Kew shop stocks many of the edible plants described in the book as both plants and seeds, including chilli peppers, sweet peppers, mint, basil, parsnips and beetroot. You can buy a selection of garden tools and find lots of information about how to grow them yourself.

Finally, the book reminds us that relishing edible plants today needs to go hand-in-hand with acknowledging how lucky we are to have access to so much diversity, and how we need to preserve that diversity for the future.

– Cicely –


Kew’s Global Kitchen Cookbook is available to buy from Kew’s online shop or in the Gardens for the exclusive price of £10 (RRP £14.95)



Visit the IncrEdibles Festival

The Global Kitchen Garden

The Global Kitchen Garden, situated on the Great Lawn opposite Kew Palace, features over 90 edible plants from every corner of the globe. Two semi-circular inner beds are dedicated to herbs while five outer beds represent different regions of the world. Grapes, pomegranate and olive trees are planted in a circular design, and beautiful arches draped with climbers make this a stunning space to explore. Discover where some of our best-loved food plants have travelled from and be introduced to some lesser-known and obscure ones!

Rose Garden Tea Party

Visitors are invited to Kew’s tea party where a huge variety of edible plants are growing out of plates, cups, teapots, dishes, jugs and platters. Interactive riddles give visitors the chance to guess what ingredients are needed to go into their favourite treats. The plants are grouped and themed at each dining place and visitors can sit down to enjoy a story about each edible plant. You can move from one dining place to another investigating the different themes linking edible plants, and take photos of each other relaxing on the beautiful handmade chairs. (The Rose Garden Tea Party was created by Kirsti Davies & Giles Thaxton.)


12 September 2013
The illustrations in this look just beautiful! Definitely want this on my kitchen bookshelf!
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