Capture the essence of lilac in a small bottle of lilac syrup and enhance your drinks or plate with the spring flavor of heaven. It also makes for a beautiful DIY gift, especially for those who foraged their lilacs.
May is in full swing and lilac blossoms with their unmistakable scents are part of it. There are several species of lilac with various color shades from light pink to deep purple. Their fragrance has calming properties and brings pleasant memories that help overcome stressful situations.
Lilacs for beauty
Lilacs possess astringent properties that are successfully used in oils, creams, toners or lotions to tighten the skin and reduce wrinkles. Their fragrance is prized the world over and is often used in perfumes, candles or soaps. But can you actually eat them?
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Are lilacs edible?
While we like to enjoy their beauty in gardens or use them to decorate our interior, few people know that lilacs are also edible.
I like to use edible flowers in my kitchen like in these red clover pancakes, violet panna cotta or dandelion fritters. Lilac blossoms are often used to decorate cakes or lilac donuts. However, if you want to preserve their fragrance and flavor for the whole year you want to make lilac syrup.
How to make lilac syrup?
First step - Start with gathering the lilac blossoms
When you decide to eat lilac make sure you use blossoms that haven’t been treated with pesticides or any other chemicals. The safest way is to use lilacs that grow in your garden. Collect the flowers on a sunny day. For this lilac syrup recipe you will need 4 lilac flowers. No need to wash the lilac blossoms, just carefully observe them and mechanically remove any bugs or dirt. You want to keep the pollen that is a carrier of fragrance and flavor. I usually set the flowers outside for a while so that any tiny bugs hiding in the blossoms have a chance to escape.
remove leaves and green stems and keep just colorful florets.
Many recipes suggest cooking the florets in the water first to capture the taste and fragrance. I prefer to steep the florets overnight in cold pre-boiled water together with 2-3 slices of unwaxed (organic) lemon.
let the mixture infuse for 24 hours
Strain the mixture through the muslin cloth or fine sieve into a sterilized jar.
Add honey or raw sugar and citric acid
Once all is dissolved you can fill the syrup in sterilized bottles.
Using Lilac Syrup
- Lilac syrup is delicious on its own, just mixed with water, sparkling water or ginger ale
- It pairs well with lemon and makes for a tasty base for a lilac lemonade made of lilac syrup, lemon juice and sparkling water or water in a ratio 1:1:2
- I like to add 1-2 teaspoons into my morning hot tea or coffee
- Or use it as a topping on pancakes or waffles
- Mix it into a yoghurt
- Pour it as a lite syrup over ice cream or panna cotta
- Use it as a sweetener in your fruit salad
- Add gelatin to the mixture to make a lilac jelly.
- If you need a kick at the end of the day, mix it with vodka and lemon juice or add it to other cocktails.
- In cake recipes that call for a sugar syrup
- To moisten cakes, brush a cake with lilac syrup before icing it. That will give special taste and extra moisture to your cake
The color of the syrup depends on the color of the lilac blossoms. The more colorful they are, the brighter the color of the syrup will be. If your lilac blossoms are rather light in color, you can use a few wild blueberries to turn it into lilac color.
The lilac syrup should be clear and not cloudy looking. When you see its appearance changing from clear to moldy it means that it is going bad. Also when you see some bubbles developing on the top it is also a sign of breaking down. Another sign that your lilac syrup is going bad is a foul odor that may come from the bottle when you open it.
If you prefer a thicker consistency of the syrup to use it on pancakes or over ice cream you can reduce the syrup. If you used honey as a sweetener for your syrup you will lose its medicinal benefits with higher temperature. So I would rather increase the amount of honey to make the syrup thicker than to heat the syrup.
If you used raw sugar , the best way to make it thicker is to reduce the amount of water. Pour the syrup into a saucepan and simmer the lilac syrup under very low heat for 10-15 minutes. The mixture doesn’t need to boil, all we need is some liquid to evaporate so leave the saucepan uncovered. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature until it reaches 110 C (230 F). Once your syrup reaches this temperature it should be thick enough for your pancakes.
The flavor of lilac syrup varies depending on the blossoms you used. Each flower has a different taste and fragrance. They are in general very fragrant with a floral lemony taste. It pairs well with citrus and strawberry so you can get creative and decorate lilac syrup cocktails with these fruits or pour lilac syrup over strawberry sorbet as a special springtime treat! Don’t worry their fragrance and flavor aren’t too overpowering.
f you make a small batch that you plan to use within a few weeks, you don’t need to do anything, just keep it refrigerated
More bottles of lilac syrup that you want to keep for the whole year or give it as a gift require canning. Canning lilac syrup is easy. Fill your canning pan with water and set it to boil. Reduce the heat and place your jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water bath and now they should be safe to use for 8-12 months.
Alternatively, Lilac syrup can be stored in the freezer to extend its shelf life up to 6 months. Use airtight containers or ice cube trays and freeze it.