Earlier this week Iley and I snuck in an afternoon swim at Steps Beach, which was much needed. The water was finally the perfect temperature and was calm and clear-just the way I like it. Not a fan of the rough surf. Anyway, on the steps leading down to the sand, I was enveloped by a perfume of sweet honey laden blossoms. I stopped; inhaling this ecstasy that is called honeysuckle. On the way up the steps, refreshed and salty, we stopped once again to pick some of these delicate fairy-like blooms, careful to avoid the onslaught of shiny three-leaved vacation spoilers, aka poison ivy, that seem to cover every inch they can reach on the island. Our foraging continued on bicycle to more abundant spots along the bike paths and roadsides. Baskets full of sweet-scented blossoms, we headed home eager to turn them into a fragrant syrup.
Syrups are a favorite versatile preparation for any wild edible/medicinal blossom. Honeysuckle has been used medicinally for thousands of years because of its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, depurative, and diuretic properties among others, and is also used to reduce blood pressure. You can learn more about it here. Honeysuckle’s pleasant aroma and taste are wonderful added to drinks, as well as cakes and biscuits.
Take Note: Before you go out foraging make sure you know what you are picking. There are many varieties of honeysuckle and only some are edible. What we picked is Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle.
Wild Honeysuckle Strawberry Lemonade
Yield ~7 cups
With Strawberry season still going strong here, thanks to a late spring, we have been trying to stock the freezer and jar as many local strawberries we can. I couldn’t resist combining fresh local strawberry juice with the fragrant honeysuckle and bright lemon to make this lemonade. A perfect summertime drink for a party; kid tested and approved by Iley. You can replace half or more of the water portion with sparkling water for a bubbly lemonade. Add a splash of your favorite spirits and a tasty cocktail is born. The bright red hue would be very fitting for a 4th of July holiday gathering. Pour this lemonade into popsicle molds and your mind will be blown!
- About 1 1/2 Cups of fresh honeysuckle blossoms
- 1 1/2 Cups maple syrup
- 1/2 Cup water
- 4 thin slices of lemon
- 1 dry quart of fresh strawberries, use locally grown if you can
- 1- 1 1/2 Cups honeysuckle syrup
- 4 cups cold water
- 2/3 Cups fresh lemon juice
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
- Fresh herbs for garnish
Edible Blossom/Herb Ice Cubes
- fresh edible blossoms and herbs-I used lemon thyme blossoms, pansies, and lemon verbena
- Bring maple syrup and water to a boil in a saucepan.
- Place blossoms in a clean heat proof glass jar and pour hot syrup over them. Add sliced lemon, cover and let steep.
- Once it reaches room temperature place it the refrigerator for 2 hours up to overnight.
- Strain mixture through a fine sieve.
- Store syrup in a sterilized jar, refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Make Ice Cubes:
- Place blossoms and herbs into ice cube trays or molds and fill with cold water.
- Freeze until solid.
- Juice strawberries by crushing them though a sieve, no need to remove the stem and leaves.
- Combine strawberry juice, lemon juice, honeysuckle syrup, and water in a glass pitcher. Stir gently to combine.
- Add sliced lemon and fresh herbs like mint, lemon verbena, basil or lemon thyme.
- Serve chilled over blossom ice cubes. Sit back, sip and enjoy!
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