Last week I was down on my allotment checking on the seedlings, when to my surprise, I saw some kind soul had left some heads of Lilac on our table. They smelt divine. I love these little gifts I sometimes get on the allotment. I don't know where they come from. Once I was given a branch of rosemary as long as my arm!
As it turns out, lilacs don't just smell lovely they are also edible. So I went to making a floral syrup.
Syrups are incredibly easy to make once you know how and any herb can be turned into one. They're a wonderful way to make some herbs more palatable to children and as you only need a tiny amount for the herbal syrup to have its medicinal effect the quantity of the sugar in it isn't something worth worrying about. But that's just my opinion and you're certainly entitled to your own on this matter. If you'd rather not use refined white sugar (I don't like to use it either) you can swap it out for coconut nectar. Coconut nectar has trace minerals in it so isn't such a drag on the body as refined sugar is.
If you want to use a liquid sweetener like Agave nectar, Yacon syrup, Honey or Maple syrup you'll need to use double what I've recommended below. As per usual I write my recipes in a very visceral way, rather than revolving around quantities. This will either please you or annoy you!
You will need:
- Lilac flowers (and Primrose if you can find them)
- Sugar (I use granulated coconut nectar)
- A saucepan
- Measuring jug
- Tonic water
- Prepare the lilac flowers by picking the flowers off the head.
- Put the flowers in the saucepan and whatever depth they are in the pan, cover them with double that in tap water.
- Put the pan on the stove and bring the water to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer the water for about 5-10minutes with a cover on so that the delicate floral taste doesn't evaporate.
- Strain off the liquid (decoction) into a measuring jug.
- Whatever quantity of decoction you have add the same amount in sugar. So if you have 100ml of liquid you'll add 100g of sugar. Pretty simple maths!
- Then put this back on the heat in the saucepan and stir it on a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Pour the liquid into sterilised glass bottles and allow to cool before storing.
- I'm keeping mine in the fridge.
To make the gin and tonic you simply put a single measure (25ml) of the lilac syrup in with a single measure of gin, top up with tonic water and serve with ice. Yum.
I'd recommend using a bottle with a cork lid, on the off chance that you got your sugar levels wrong and it starts to ferment, and explodes...