It's simple.. I fu**ing love lilacs. I'm not going to be delicate about it. The smell brings me back to my childhood in New England. Early summer in Maine smells of lilacs and the constant rainy days of May and June truly bring that aroma out. I would sleep in a lilac bush if I could, I just love them that much! (I threw my head back and cackled as I wrote that.)
One of my first lilac memories is harvesting them with my aunt Karin. My neighbors lilac bush was overflowing into our backyard, so we figured we could pick some to bring inside. From what I remember, the neighbor wasn't thrilled with our harvest, which I think has instilled a sense of thrill for me whenever I harvest lilacs. I'm always afraid that I'm going to get caught in the act of harvesting lilacs. A few of my friends have witnessed me pulling over to the side of a road, jumping out of the car to run over to a bush and harvest a few bunches of lilacs. I've done it under the cover of night. I harvest and run; escaping my none existent pursuer. Call it paranoia if you want to, but I like to call it "guerrilla harvesting". It's ridiculous but also really fun. (I don't go into peoples yards by the way.. most often there's actually not a need for me to run away.)
Luckily my mom has a lilac bush in her backyard. So there's not a real need for me to rush while gathering these sweet, purple flowers. I came up to the Flathead Valley to visit my mom and cats this weekend and was thrilled to see that the lilacs were in bloom. Maybe you've seen my recipe for Lilac Wine, but I've never made syrup with them before. Syrups are one of my favorite ways to infuse herbs and flowers into my every day routine. They can enhance fizzy water or your favorite cocktail. Or mix a syrup with powdered sugar to make a glaze for waffles, scones, cookies, etc. Or just drink em straight up, no judgement!
3-4 lilac bunches
3 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups honey or raw sugar
Gently rinse lilacs and inspect for debris/bugs before removing flowers from stems. Place flowers in a large, heat proof jar and completely cover with boiled water. Cover the jar and let sit overnight or for at least 4 hours. After infusion time, strain flower water and transfer to a pot. Add sugar or honey and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. You'll be looking for a slightly thick and syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and let cool before pouring syrup into a bottle or jar. Cap tightly and keep in fridge for up to 2 months.
Serve with cocktails/mocktails, lemonade or sparkling water.