Sunday, May 27, 2012

Flower Child (Lilac Syrup)

Among my copious little domestic obsessions, I have an affinity for plants, flowers, and gardening. One of my earliest memories is, at about four years old or so, blithely wandering away from home to pick flowers. I drifted through the neighborhood like a hummingbird from one pretty flower to the next, becoming thoroughly lost in the process. Eventually, a nice policewoman brought me home with a beautiful bouquet. I hope I gave her some flowers, too.

I'm captivated already
Now, I realize this likely comes a little too late, but I was finally uploading images off the camera and some of these seemed too pretty to ignore. Pardon my self congratulatory tone. Lilacs are one of the very best things about May but, like so many things, their blooms are fleetingly ephemeral. For a few weeks, I enjoy having a wash of misty purple blossoms and crystalline, dream-sweet fragrance right outside the bedroom window. For the remainder of the year, I can make lilac syrup.

2/3rds of the ingredients
Syrups are easy to make and allow you to preserve all sorts of flavors, while adding sweetness and moisture to a finished dish. Swirl them into icings, drizzle on top of pancakes or ice cream, or slip some into lemonade and snazzy cocktails. For cakes that are extra soft and sweet, I split them through the center and brush both halves liberally with syrup, allowing it to soak deep into the crumb.

It's always important to hydrate
You can modify this recipe for just about anything: peppermint, thyme, lavender, rosemary, lemon, orange, ginger, cinnamon, coffee... The possibilities are endless. Alternatively, use just sugar and water to make simple syrup, the easiest syrup of all. It's perfect for sweetening cocktails and other icy drinks like coffee and tea.

Your own flowery little Swiss army knife of awesome

Lilac syrup
From Eradicator

Seriously, this recipe is by someone who calls themselves "Eradicator." If that isn't a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.

1 c water
1 c white sugar
1 c fresh lilac blossoms, tightly packed
1-2 blueberries, for extra color (optional)

Rinse the lilac blossoms well under cold, running water. Carefully remove stems and leaves, you want only the blossoms.

Tedium, thy name is lilac blossoms
Combine the water and sugar in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to gentle simmer, whisking until dissolved.

Halfway there
Whisk in the lilac blossoms and berries, if using. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer lightly, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. The syrup should visibly thicken, coating the back of a spoon.

Remove from the heat and carefully strain into a large, heatproof liquid measuring cup. Cover loosely with parchment or a dish towel and allow to cool.

Caution: hot
Pour into a bottle with a tight stopper and store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Makes about 1 cup of syrup.



Anonymous said...

I cannot wait to try this. My lilacs are a very deep plum color, so I'm thinking I will get the color from the lilacs and won't need the blueberries! Would a lemon cake laced with lilac syrup work together???
Thanks for this. I need to figure out how to follow your blog!!

Jp1083 said...

Hi Rachael!

We have some of the deeper colored ones, too, i think i like them even better. Even pale lilacs give the syrup a violet tint, so the blueberry is just about punching up the color. It's not enough to affect the flavor anyway, but can be safely left out.

I think lemon, lavender, and blueberries all make especially good pairings for the lilac flavor. I was contemplating some form of lilac blueberry bread or lavender lilac cupcakes as a blog post for this month, myself. Let us know how it turns out!

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