01 of 06
Celebrate Spring with a Homemade Lilac Simple Syrup
Lilacs are one of the signs of spring and when those beautiful, fragrant flowers bloom, we know that the season is finally here. While many of us enjoy lilacs in the garden and bring fresh bouquets into the house, there are other ways that to enjoy them.
Lilacs have many uses in the kitchen and bar. It's rather common to use the tiny flowers for homemade jelly. You can also enjoy a crème de lilac liqueur or a lilac cordial are both amazing and I recommend giving those a try as well. If you've not done so before, a few tips for foraging lilacs will be useful as well.
The next logical step to integrating the unique taste of lilacs into drinks is to create a homemade simple syrup. This is just as easy as any DIY syrup and the benefit of the syrup is that it makes it easy for us to add both flavor and sweetness into a variety of drinks.
The finished taste of the syrup is best described as a dark floral, almost lavender-like but distinctly lilac. It's quite lovely and in the last step of this tutorial I have included a number of quick and easy drinks that I've created using it.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
Mix Floral Drinks with Lilac Simple Syrup
Before we begin, let's tempt your taste buds with the drinks you can make with this wonderful syrup.
Lilac syrup works wonders in lightly flavored beverages and pairs particularly well with lemon and strawberry. The drinks could be anything as simple as adding it to ginger ale or tonic water, even a sparkling wine. Better yet, mix it with DRY Sparkling's rhubarb or cucumber sodas or Q Drinks' orange or lemon sodas.
A personal favorite is a simple lilac lemonade. It's incredibly and as easy as using this syrup in a basic homemade lemonade recipe.
Here are a few simple spring cocktail I've created for you to try...
However you mix with the lilac syrup, I highly recommend enjoying it while relaxing on the patio or the garden. Oh, and be sure to share it with friends (especially if you borrowed from their lilacs)!Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Prepare Lilacs for Making a Simple Syrup
The first thing that you need to do to create your own lilac simple syrup is to gather the flower bunches and remove the florets. This is foraging at its most fragrant and it's a lovely springtime activity.
All lilacs are not created equal and each variety of lilac will have a different taste. If you have a few different plants available, give each a quick taste to see which you enjoy best.
Continue to 4 of 6 below.
- Once you have chosen the lilac bush, look for blooms that are nice and fresh and with flowers that are fully opened.
- Cut a few blooms from the bush. I like to move around the plant so as not to take too many flowers from one spot and leaving the bush bare.
- Gather as many blooms as you think you need. I cut about six large bunches of flowers, ended up with about six cups of florets from four of those, keeping two bunches for a vase.
- After gathering your lilacs, it is time to remove the tiny florets from the bunch. They come off very easily by hand: just grab the flower (or a small bunch) and pull it from the stem. Make sure that you are only getting the purple floret as the tiny green stems can make your syrup bitter.
- Place the florets in a fine mesh strainer and give them a good rinse under cold water.
04 of 06
Making Lilac Syrup on the Stove
This lilac syrup is just as easy as any other simple syrup recipe. I chose to double my batch to create 2 cups of syrup, though you could do more or less. Lilacs are only around once a year and the bunch creates more florets than you may think, so take advantage of this moment!
What you will need:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups fresh lilac florets
Preparing the syrup:
Continue to 5 of 6 below.
- Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan on the stove.
- Stir constantly until all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Bring to a slow boil.
- Add lilac florets, stir gently, and cover.
- Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
05 of 06
Get the Full Lilac Flavor in Simple Syrup
The next step in creating lilac simple syrup requires patience and it is all about obtaining a perfectly flavored syrup.
Once you remove the pan from the stove, keep it covered and wait. As it cools and rests, the lilacs will add their sweet flavor to the syrup. The time it takes to steep will depend on the variety of lilacs used and how intense you want the flavor. Remember that this is a delicate flower and it will take quite a few hours to fully infuse.
Feel free to taste test your syrup regularly. My infusion was almost perfect at three hours, though I let it set for eight hours and it was perfect. The syrup was nicely floral and when it went into drinks, it had a nice balance, neither overpowering or disappearing against the other ingredients.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Strain the Lilac Flowers from the Finished Syrup
Lilac flowers are tiny and even tinier particles will be created while making the lilac syrup.
For this reason, it is essential to use a fine mesh strainer for your syrup. If needed, you may also need to double strain to remove every bit of lilac. Another option is to use cheesecloth to strain the syrup.
I like to use the set up in the picture and rest my strainer in a large bowl. Allowing this to sit for a few minutes, with the occasional shake, lets more of the syrup drip into the bowl. The extra quantity is small, but this is precious liquid!
After straining, pour the finished lilac syrup into a glass container with a tight-sealing lid. Store it in the refrigerator, where it should keep for a week or two.
Interestingly, the syrup looks almost brown in the bottle, but when mixed it gives a soft purple hue to drinks.