Let’s eat the flowers!
Lilac season is glorious, though fleeting. I look forward to these voluptuous May blossoms with great anticipation each year. With lots of old-fashioned lilacs on my property, I know I will fill my vases every day, and the scent will fill my lungs with spring. After a long winter and cold, wet spring, this magnificence renews the spirit.
Smells good enough to eat
I remember some years ago I had picked a large bouquet and buried my face in the blossoms. They smelled so wonderful, I took a big bite of them. They were disappointing, bitter, but I did break off some of the little florets for a garnish for a salad that night and they were perfect.
Another way to eat these flowers is to turn them into a syrup. The only time consuming part is picking off the little flowers, but it goes fast and there are few kitchen chores more delightful, sitting in a cloud of spring fragrance touching gentle flowers.
A bouquet of uses
The syrup is sweet and floral, and the actual flavor varies from variety to variety. The syrup can be used to sweeten lemonade, my favorite use, or iced or hot tea. Add a bit of this to any cocktail where you want some sweet, or make a lilac fizzy drink by adding to club soda. You can also drizzle it on ice cream, pancakes, or over a robust cheese such as brie, decorated, of course, with a few more florets.
Use freshly picked lilacs that have not been sprayed with any type of pesticide. After you pick, give them a good shake to dislodge any hidden bees! They always seem to be there, working away.
My lilacs are pale in color, so I tossed in a few blueberries during the steeping to lend the lilac color I desired. I probably put a few too many in, since this batch turned out more purple than lilac, but it’s still beautiful!
- 2 quarts lilac flowers
- 4 cups white sugar
- 4 cups water
- A few blueberries for color
Pick the flowers off the bunches taking care to use only the florets and not any green material. Rinse them off.
Combine the sugar and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. You want the sugar to dissolve. Then add the florets and turn the heat down to a bare simmer for about five minutes.
Remove from the heat and cover. Let this set for eight hours or overnight.
Strain, and you have your syrup! This will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two, or you can process it in sterilized jars in a hot water bath for ten minutes if you make a big batch. Or, simply freeze!
Lilac Lemonade: To one quart of freshly made lemonade, add 1/4 cup of lilac syrup, or sweeten to taste; I like less, others in the family, more.
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