Nothing says spring to like the intoxicating scent of lilac blossoms. They remind me of the sweetness of childhood, my mother's birthday, and the hope and renewal that spring rains bring. The fragrance so heady and delicious I've always want to eat them - and you can! While I enjoy lilac blossom tea with a bit of honey and a twist of lime, my true love lies with lilac blossom cordial.
Lilacs have been used as medicine as long as they've been in existence. They are a bitter astringent herb that's cooling. They are used for kidney infections, digestive distress, and to calm anxious nerves.
It's a tree of guardianship and an ally to the faerie realm to ward off unwanted energy. In Gaelic, Lilac is called Galad, which means gift, and is the root word for: hospitality, sexual pleasure, delight and mystical union. I don't know about you, but Lilacs certainly evoke a delicious mood and spark that reminds me of sexual pleasure, delight, and mystical union. I'd say perfect themes for Beltane, which is just around the corner. Hmm, I think I'll be serving some this holiday!
For me, the scent of both lilacs and elderflowers are the kind I want to possess. They are so heady they make me swoon. Turn to the cordial. As much as I prefer to avoid sugar and sugary products, the power of preservation that sugar can lend is like no other. Making a cordial means I get to have that intoxicating scent and taste long after the flower fades.....
I use the same basic recipe for lilac cordial as I do for when I make elderflower cordial. The native elder tree that grows here on Salt Spring (Sambucus racemosa) happens to bloom now - when the lilacs do. So I'm busy making this recipe for both. Go ahead and do the same!
6-10 fresh lilac heads (or elderflower)
2 litres (2000ml) of boiled water
1kg (2lbs) of organic sugar
2 whole organic lemons, washed
Optional: 2TBSP of citric acid to help preserve. Or, simply add two more lemons.
preparation: approx10 minutes
Gather approximately 6-10 heads of lilac blossoms. Make sure to gather from an unpolluted area. It's best to harvest on a sunny day when the blooms are certainly dry. I also prefer to harvest them when they are fresh and newly opened blooms as opposed to wilting, browning blooms that are on their way out.
Once you get home, pull the blossoms off of the stem. It's okay if some of the green ends of the blooms are pulled off as well. Place the blossoms in a wide-mouthed glass or ceramic container.
Wash two lemons clean. Slice them and add them into the container with lilacs, peel and all.
Boil 2 litres (2000ml) of water.
Add 1kg of sugar to the boiled water to dissolve.
Pour over the lilac and lemons.
Optional: Add 2TBSP of citric acid to help preserve the finished project - or add two more lemons to the recipe.
Make sure the blooms and lemons are submerged under the hot water. Fasten a lid on the jar. Let it stand on the counter for 3-5 days.
Check on the brew each day, making sure the blooms remains submerged; stir good intentions and images of all the people you will make happy with this cordial. I smile as I think of all the birthdays and holidays (like Beltane and Lammas) I'll be serving this.
Taste it. You can add more sugar if necessary. Some recipes actually double the amount of sugar I used here.
After 5 days, strain the cordial through a fine mesh strainer, and place it in sterilized bottles. You can use canning jars, or pretty antique jars so long as the lid is tightly fastened. Just remember to label it with ingredients and a date.
Keep it in a cool or cold storage. I keep mine in the fridge. It can last a very, very long time. In fact, I just found a bottle in the back of my fridge from five years ago! It smells and tastes as fragrant as the day I made it.
How to drink it? Oh, well, any which way you like. I prefer 2tbsp of cordial in a fancy wine glass filled with sparkling water and ice. Plain water is nice too if you don't like the bubbly. You can drizzle it over pancakes, ice cream, or crepes.
I also found this amazing recipe for lilac scones! Please make them and then let me know how they turn out. I'm not much of a pastry person so I probably won't get around to making them. Truthfully, my time is gobbled up with clinic and making medicine at this time of year.
One of the sweetest gifts of making this cordial (and all herbal medicines) in the summer, is we can nourish our being with this magic in the winter, should our spirits need the reminder that spring indeed returns after winter.
Enjoy! I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. What do you do with Lilac blossoms? And if you make cordial this year, let me know how your batch turns out!