Stop and eat your flowers!
Yes, of course, you can smell them too :)
Wild foods and edible flowers are some of my FAVORITE things ever. Wherever I am in the world, I am constantly on the lookout.
Walking in Brooklyn, NY or Naples, Italy I've found nettles, reishi, lambsquarters, dandelion (of course!), and always learning new native plants from any continent or landscape, from countryside to dense urban centers, to anything in between. I'm definitely a loud and proud plant geek :)
Now, let's move on to lilacs.
Unfortunately, lilacs are SO DELICATE that we are not able to extract an essential oil or absolute (to the best of my current knowledge) for it to preserve it's amazing scent. But fortunately we can enjoy their flavor in so many other ways and preserve them to enjoy that aroma all year long.
Did you even know you can EAT THEM?!
Beyond being SO BEAUTIFUL to look at as harbingers of spring and their intoxicating floral aroma... they are GORGEOUS to add as garnish to your salads, bowls, desserts... used IN desserts and drink recipes (or anything your creative mind comes up with!)... and wonderful to preserve that magic in various ways.
Some of my favorite preservations of lilacs (and so many other wild edibles) include:
- vinegar infusions
- raw honey infusion
- maple syrup infusion
- shrubs (equal parts apple cider vinegar & raw honey infusion)
- witch hazel infusion (I'll use this as a facial toner)
- and flower essences
Some of these are ways I can then infuse other recipes later by having the basics covered. For instance, I can use the maple syrup infusion to sweeten a raw dessert or even use in lemonade.
But while we have the 2-3 week magic window of FRESH lilacs, lemonade is a frequent flyer on my menu. And it's SO quick and easy.
Let's make some!
Yields 1/2 gallon
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 lemon, rind and all, squeezed
2-3 "heads" of lilac blossoms
7 cups filtered or spring water
Add all ingredients to a large jar or pitcher and stir.
Cover and let sit for 2 hours or overnight (the longer it sets, the more lilac flavor you'll get).
Strain and serve over ice and enjoy!
Pro-tip: this also makes a delicious mixer with barr hill gin or tequila and a splash of sparkling water!
Make sure to tag me @jessicajeanweston on Instagram if you make these! I absolutely love seeing your recreations and adaptations!