Lilacs are a sure sign of spring, with an intoxicating scent and beautiful range of colours. The blossoms are edible, and delicious, and make a lovely lilac syrup.
This recipe is very slightly finicky as the individual blossoms must be carefully plucked from the flower heads. Green stems make the syrup bitter and must be sorted out – luckily, lilac blossoms come away from the stems quite easily.
This is a cold infusion, meaning the blossoms are immersed in a cold water/honey mixture rather than a hot one. I find that the flavour can quickly move toward vaguely rotten when doing a hot infusion, and the lilac scent is stronger with cold.
Much like elderflower cordial, this syrup can be used for drinks, either mixed simply with sparkling water or as an addition to other mixed drinks like lilac lemonade. Use it as a soak for cakes or anywhere you might use simple syrup.
The end shade will depend on the colour of the honey, blossoms, and how many berries you add. Mine is usually more pink than purple.
- Lilac Blossoms: make sure they’re unsprayed and harvested away from a busy road-side. If you’re not sure, just ask!
- Honey: choose a honey without an overwhelming flavour and one you like the taste of, as it will come through slightly.
- Water: at room temperature, filtered if your tap water is bad.
- Blueberries: or blackberries, for colour. I find frozen wild blueberries add the best colour.
Notes and Substitutions
Sugar can replace honey if you need a vegan option. I don’t really recommend it – sugar will change the flavour significantly – but it can be used. In that case, the water and sugar must be heated enough to dissolve the crystals, and then cooled fully before adding the blossoms.
Blueberries are optional, but add most of the pink or purple colour. Blackberries can also be used. The colour of the lilac blossoms can also alter the syrup colour slightly, but it doesn’t really matter. Choose flowers with a strong scent for the best flavour.
If the syrup is at all bitter, it’ll be because green stems got into the mix. It is time consuming to pluck all the flowers away from the stems, but must be done.
Don’t over-steep the infusion, and definitely don’t be tempted to go over 48 hours. If you feel it needs a stronger flavour, remove the blossoms from the mix and add new ones to steep for another day. Any longer than two days and the lilacs will start to rot and impart that flavour to the syrup.
More Recipes with Edible Flowers
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Honey Lilac Syrup
- 350 grams honey
- 250 ml water
- 50 grams lilac blossoms
- 3-5 frozen blueberries
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice optional
- Add the honey and water to a bowl or other container (one that will fit into your refrigerator). Whisk until the honey is completely dissolved into the water.350 grams honey, 250 ml water
- Rinse the lilac blossoms in a fine sieve to remove any dust or insects.50 grams lilac blossoms
- Place the blossoms into the honey mixture and stir. Not all of the blossoms will be submerged, but that’s fine. Add the blueberries to the syrup.3-5 frozen blueberries
- Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. Taste after a full day and if you’d like, the syrup can steep for one more day, but don’t go longer than 48 hours.
- Once the lilacs have finished steeping, strain them out.
- Add the lemon juice if desired and stir to incorporate.1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Pour the syrup into clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator for a week or two. It can be frozen for up to two months.
This post was first published in May 2021. It has been updated with additional information as of May 2022.