Preserving Lilac Season with Lilac Syrup
One of the easiest ways to use and enjoy edible flowers in your kitchen is by infusing them into a simple syrup otherwise known as a lilac cordial or lilac squash. Lilac season comes and goes so quickly in May and they are one of my all-time favorite blooms, edible or otherwise. Known for their sweet honey fragrance and beautiful purple hue, lilacs have been used in cottage and country gardens and hedgerows for centuries. Lilac syrup is a classic recipe often called lilac cordial that is best used to sweeten and flavor refreshing iced drinks or cocktails.
How to Make Lilac Cordial
The video below shows all of the simple steps to making your own lilac syrup at home. Press play to watch and scroll down to the recipe for detailed ingredient measurements and written step-by-step instructions.
Lilac Syrup Color
When infused into the syrup, the flowers turn the sweet syrup into a peachy rose color, which is beautiful in its own right. If you want the lilac cordial to be purple like the lilac flowers you can add a few frozen blueberries while the sugar water mixture comes to a boil, which will impart a violet hue to the syrup. Frozen wild blueberries work best to give a strong purple color.
Lilac Syrup Flavor
The flavor of lilac syrup or lilac cordial is very subtle. Lilacs have an astringent quality to them which can give off a tart flavor. It’s perfect to balance out the sweet syrup. The flavor is slightly floral and citrusy with the addition of lemon.
Lilac Cordial Uses
Lilac cordial has the consistency of simple syrup and is best used in drinks or cocktails. Use it to sweeten non-alcoholic drinks like iced teas, lemonade, cucumber water, or summer punches. Add it to your favorite cocktails in place of simple syrup like my Lilac Gin Fizz Cocktail recipe for example.
Lilac Syrup Questions:
Yes, the flowers of the species Lilac or Syringa spp. (the common species is vulgaris) are edible.
Lilacs were originally brought to North America by European immigrants and can now be found growing wild in abandoned lots and old gardens. If you don’t have lilacs growing in your own yard you can forage for them in said abandoned areas or if you see them in a neighbor’s yard it never hurts to ask if you can clip a small bouquet. If you do the latter it is nice to offer payment to the owners. Remember that when you clip off lilacs you are pruning them so only take a few stems from each plant. Be mindful of where you are foraging and that the area has not been sprayed with pesticides or is in the path of water runoff from roadways.
Lilac syrup is best used to sweeten and flavor drinks or cocktails.
Lilac cordial will last about 4 weeks bottled and refrigerated.
Try my Vegan Semolina Lilac Strawberry Shortcake, Vegan Lilac Lemon Mini Cake, Vegan Lilac Raspberry Scones, and Lilac Water recipes in my recipe archives for starters. Perhaps the easiest way to use lilacs is to freeze them in ice cubes and add them to your drinks. See the image below for inspiration. Lilacs can be added to baked goods, infused into custards, or simply used to decorate a finished recipe.
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- 30 g fresh lilac flowers about 1 cup, stems removed
- 235 g water 1 cup
- 200 g white granulated sugar 1 cup
- 1 lemon sliced
- Add the lilac flowers and lemon slices to a quart-sized jar.
- Bring the water and sugar to just a boil in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour the hot sugar syrup over the lilac flowers and lemon slices to cover them. Muddle the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Cover the jar and cool slightly then refrigerate it overnight. As the lilac syrup steeps and cools it will take a pale blush pink-colored hue.
- The following day, strain the syrup into a bottle or jar with a funnel lined with a small strainer. Press the solids with a spoon to extract as much syrup as possible. Discard the solids.
- Store the lilac syrup in the refrigerator and use it within 4 weeks.
- Always be sure to identify any edible flowers and plants correctly before ingesting them. If foraging for lilacs be mindful of where they are located if they could have been sprayed with pesticides or in the path of water runoff from roadways. Also, be mindful to not over-overharvest the plant. You are pruning the plant so only take a few stems from each plant.
- White granulated or caster sugar is best for flower syrups to retain the color of the flowers. Organic sugar or raw sugar will turn the syrup more of a brown color.
Wearing the Garden Shirt from So Elly, designed by my dear friend Julie Stephenson.