Monday, 20 May 2013

Lilac syrup: bottling the essence of May

I wanted to try to make my own lilac syrup over a year ago, when I read a magazine article about it (where? which magazine? no clue now). But I never managed, thinking I had plenty of time, and then we had such a scorching hot May that the lilac blossom soon turned dried brown.

We have two old lilac trees (is it a tree or a bush? ours look like proper trees anyway), one next to the kitchen, and one of a darker hue, at the very end of the garden, next to the stone wall and shed. I love the smell of the lilac, it brings memories of May in Russia. Somehow I don't see any florists selling the lilac bunches here, while in Russia they are very popular in bouquets. When I was young, we lived in the ground floor apartment with the lilacs waving in my windows. They have such a pronounced sweet aroma that you cannot take it for any other perfume. Heady and lush.

Lilac syrup
1 mug of granulated sugar
1 mug of water
a handful of lilac (see photo below)

Bring 1 mug of water and 1 mug of sugar to the boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the lilac to the sugar syrup and simmer for about 10 minutes on very low heat.
Let it cool before pouring into a clean jar or bottle after removing the flowers.
Et voilĂ !

The syrup turned out to be surprisingly pale straw green. I expected it to gain the colour of the blossom, but it didn't happen, and the flowers themselves changed colour to blue.

I have decanted it in a glass jar (yes, it is a bottle for mixing the salad dressing but I haven't used it as such).

This syrup is supposed to keep well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but we are already half-way through, so I don't think it will last that long. Perfect for a cold drink with ice on a hot May day. Just add a dash of syrup,   top up the glass with water and add the ice cubes. Enjoy!


  1. We had a white and a purple lilac tree at home when I was a kid. They sell big bunches of the flowers in France, but I seem to remember hearing that it's supposed to be unlucky to put lilac blooms in the house when I was little, which possibly explains why you don't see it in florists in the UK !

  2. Thank you, Cheryl! That probably explains it, though I haven't heard of this superstition. :) It's interesting how minds work. In Russia for example, you never give people an even number of flours, it has to be an odd number. You only take a bouquet with the even number of flowers to the cemetery.

  3. I intrigued myself and googled "lilac unlucky indoors" - it is indeed an old superstition, apparently because it was thought to attract fairies (!) and also because it's associated with death, so you should definitely never take it to someone in hospital - good to know !! lol. I don't believe in them but I find all the old superstitions fascinating :)

  4. Oooh how freaky is that ? My captcha words were "rapidly deathe" - *runs screaming from the building*, *the fairies have got me* !! lol

  5. Oh dearie me, Cheryl! The fairies should be happy with me for promoting the lilac, lol or maybe annoyed for eating their habitat, who knows. It's fascinating what you told me, I honestly wouldn't associate the lilac with death. It is Kalla flowers in Russia that are often associated with death.