Floral Simple Syrup

 


I dislike spring allergies very much so, thank you. I have deep loathing for the half-measure of illness that they are. "Be sick or be nothing," I say to my sinuses. My sinuses do not answer me for they are quickly assaulted by an anthropomorphic pollen-person grabbing me and throwing me into a pile-driver. Spring allergies are the worst for me because it's the time of year I want so much to be active, but one cannot be active when it feels like a linebacker dressed in a head-to-toe flower suit comes out of the bushes and punches me in the face. 

As a wise man once said: "Never half-ass anything, whole-ass one thing." What does this have to do with floral simple syrup? Quite a bit!

The thing with allergies is that it's a reaction to your environment, specifically an outside force. There are tons of allergy remedies on the shelves at your local pharmacy, but I personally avoid them because I don't like how loopy I get when I take them. I prefer the herbal route, but it must be a local herbal route since it won't help you at all if you take some acupressure tincture from the mountains of Yunan where it was sung to and cried over by monks if you live in the middle of Kansas.

In short: You need about a 100-mile radius of flora tolerance for it to help you with your seasonal allergies. Get a hyper-local one from your own backyard.



Gather all of your edible flowers that have a gentle aroma as well as flavor. There are so many flowers that are suitable for your seasonal growing so please don't limit yourself. In order to get the best hyper-local experience, I always use flowers that are growing in my own yard. I don't always use ones that I have grown intentionally. That is to say, I use the wildflowers that pop up, such as dandelions or sweet violas. They pop up in my garden, lawn, and flower beds, like happy little friends, and I don't mind using them because I know I don't treat my yard with weed killers. 

I live in zone 6 of the Midwest in the United States. Please check around to see what kind of local edible flowers and such you have! If you can use wild ones it's all the better so long as you have express permission to forage there. 

Here are the edible flowers I have personally seen in my yard, neighborhood, area, etc., that I have personally used to make this simple syrup. You can use this syrup for cocktails, cakes, or homemade fancy lattes, be they iced or hot! You can even add these to lemonades, sweet tea, or any other beverage you might like for summer if your allergies continue.

Midwestern Edible Flowers

  • Forsythia
  • Lavender
  • Dandelion
  • Sweet viola
  • Grape hyacinth
  • Pansy
  • peach blossom
    • actually any fruiting blossom from any fruit tree
  • Elderberry
  • Lilac
This might not seem like the most flavorful thing in the world, so please don't feel as if you have to limit yourself to edible flowers. Add herbs! 

Here's what's growing in my garden RIGHT NOW! (Please note I've got more than this growing right now but this is the stuff that I have right now that I could actually go and ethically pick because there's enough to share. Also, not everything growing right now is suitable for this project. You don't want to put asparagus in your simple syrup, no matter what the girl with bangs at the farmer's market tries to sell you.
  • Catnip
  • Lemon balm
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Peppermint
The thing about mid-spring like this is that it's often a limbo for gardeners. You don't always get enough of ONE thing to have as a main meal or even a side dish, but you get lots of bits of little things that you can use. While it is annoying, I personally think it's a better and more instinctual way to cook. Using little bits of everything instead of large bits of one thing for each meal allows you to cook in a more complex way and create more interesting things with more depth of flavor. Furthermore, natural pollens in a variety of plants growing outdoors are going to be good for allergies!

When I make the floral simple syrup I always just take little bits of everything that's available so that it's different every time. Sure, I could make a simple syrup out of only forsythia or only lilac...but why would I want to do that? That's not going to provide depth of flavor nor is it going to help my allergies if I only consume pollen from forsythia or lilac. I just gather whatever is in my little garden that would add flavor and go from there. This is not to say that I gather indiscriminately. Lettuce, for example, has a flavor but it's not the kind of flavor that you would want to have all sugared up. Why would you pay for a lettuce latte? You wouldn't. Or maybe you would because you're some kind of joyless hipster that enjoys being smug. Anyway.

Simple syrup is:

1:1 equal parts BY WEIGHT of sugar and water and you usually see that in a lot of recipes, but I tend to thin mine out because it can get sticky. TO get the flavor of the flowers and herbs, I like to add my sugar to my flowers and herbs first and pound them in a mortar and pestle, or simply leave them to infuse for an hour or two before beginning. For a more powerful smell, you can set aside bits of lilac into jars and let them sit encased in sugar for a couple of weeks to get lilac sugar. But....why? The point of eating seasonally is that you do it now, not save it for later. 

So, let's just get on with it, shall we?

My Favorite Floral Simple Syrup
  • 1 clean jar, ideally a large one!
    • The one I have is a 32 oz jar, so that's basically 4 cups 
  • A funnel
  • A fine mesh strainer
  • 7 oz granulated sugar
  • 12 oz water
  • As many flowers and herbs as can fill HALF the jar up without you packing it down




Refer to the list above for flowers. Honestly and truly, this is super easy! Simply fill your jar with as many flowers and herbs as you like up to the halfway point. I used sweet violas, pansies, sage, some lemon balm, and a little bit of orange zest, just because I had some in the fridge. Add your sugar. Pop on the lid to the jar and seal tight. Shake that motherfucker like it owes you money. Haha no really you want to shake it vigorously until the sugar appears to have moistened slightly, and then you know that the oils and such of the flowers have been released. I like to let this sit overnight, but it's totally fine if you skip the waiting, just know that the SMELL of the syrup won't be as intense as the taste. 

No matter what, bring your water to a boil in a large-enough saucepot. Dump your sugary flower stuff in and allow it to come back to a boil. IMMEDIATELY turn it off, give it a good stir to ensure that all the sugar has dissolved, and pour it all back into the jar. Scrape in ALL of the flowers, the sugar, etc., and screw on the lid TIGHT. NOW you want to let it hang out on the counter for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight. 


The next day, set up a mesh strainer atop a funnel, and that atop another suitable vessel that will catch your syrup. You can also use a drip strainer with a coffee filter if you want to be lazy like me. Simply pour in the syrup and let its own weight drain it. Squeeze out the yummies and there you go. 

GORGEOUS floral simple syrup. Use in cakes, iced coffee, iced tea, hot lattes you make at home, whatever. This is just a great way to capture the flavors of the moment that are in your garden and a SUPER quick instagrammable boost of fun. Cultivating beauty around you is an excellent mood booster, and all of us could use one of those!

I hope you've all enjoyed this easy flowery simple syrup. I hope this inspires you to cook and get out there and collect some endorphins along with me. Please remember to only use the flowers you are allowed to have access to. While I'm sure that nobody would call the police on you for picking flowers in a public park, you won't always be sure if the city employees are using pesticides. In this case, it's better to just make friends with your neighbors and if they have a forsythia bush ask if you can have some of the blossoms. I'm sure that they'll be nice if you ask nicely.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

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