Spring is in full swing, and making easy flower syrup is a great way to capture a taste of the season in a bottle. Here’s how to do it and how to use your homemade floral syrup.
I know we’ve all been inside so long that we may not have noticed the change of seasons, but spring has sprung and summer is already on the horizon.
Florals for Spring
Some of the most iconic signs and rites of spring are more fruits and vegetables in season for cooking; spring cleaning all the things; and seeing flowers everywhere. Flowers on clothing and flowers in people’s gardens—even flowers on plates! (And in cups.)
Edible flowers and floral syrup are a trendy and fancy way to elevate any dish or drink to something more flavorful and perfect for spring. Flower syrups—though they seem expensive and high-brow—are actually very easy to make and will last you a long time. So if you’re looking to use your time in isolation to learn something new (and are done with sourdough and regrowing scallions), check out these quick tips on how to make and use your own floral syrups. This is the ultimate way to prove Miranda Priestly wrong and show that florals really can be groundbreaking for spring!
What You Need to Make Flower Syrup
As far as materials go, you should have a measuring cup, a saucepan, a bowl, a strainer, and I’d also recommend a funnel to make the straining a little easier. For ingredients, you only need three: water, regular old granulated sugar, and edible flower petals of your choice.
Let’s talk about the flowers for a second. You could use basically any flower you want. For aromatic, versatile flavors that will subtly heighten the flavors of your food and drinks, some of my favorite edible florals are rose, lavender, hibiscus, dandelion, orange blossom, and violet. Edible flowers should taste how they smell, so keep that in mind if you’re prepping to make a floral syrup.
Word of warning: Don’t eat flowers you can get from a florist, as they’ve probably been treated with chemicals in order to grow those picturesque long stems and showy blooms. Likewise, don’t pick your own flowers from places unless you know they’re free of pesticides. The best bet is to get them from your own garden (assuming you don’t use chemical treatments, that is); just pick, rinse, and eat!
However, I get that most people don’t have extensive flower gardens of their own, and it’s kind of hard to get one going during this period of quarantine. I highly recommend gourmetsweetbotanicals.com. This website sells a wide variety of edible flowers so you can shop for your choice of flowers from home.
Steps to Making Flower Syrup
1. Your ratio of sugar to water should be 1:1. For the purposes of this recipe, let’s say 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. If you prefer a thicker syrup, double the ratio of sugar to water (this would mean 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup of water).
2. Heat the water in a pan over medium-low heat. When it’s sufficiently hot, add sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
3. When the mixture starts to come to a simmer, remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl.
4. This is where your flowers come in. What you have now is essentially a simple syrup. You’ll want to add certain quantities of your flower petal of choice to the bowl (more on that below), let it sit for at least a half hour, and then strain the syrup so that the petals are no longer in the liquid. Use a funnel to strain it into bottles, or strain it into jars. Store in the fridge to make it last longer.
Bormioli Rocco Swing-Top Bottles, $4-$5 from Sur La Table
How Many Flowers Should You Use?
Let’s talk about how much of each flower you should use. If you are making rose syrup, you can get away with using a cup or even two of rose petals, because rose is a very subtle smell and flavor. Lavender, on the other hand, is very strong and overpowering when added to food and drink, so you shouldn’t use more than 3 tablespoons. Hibiscus and dandelion should be 1 cup maximum, and orange blossoms could be a cup or two.
Your basic rule of thumb here should be to go by smell. If the flower has a very subtle smell, you can use more petals in your syrup. A more overpowering smell should be used more conservatively in a syrup. Ultimately, this is your syrup! The amount of flower petals you incorporate will depend on your personal tastes.
How to Use Floral Syrup
I think floral syrups are best utilized in drinks and desserts. A little bit of lavender syrup in a glass of lemonade or a drizzle of rose syrup over vanilla ice cream goes a long way. And hibiscus in hot tea? Come on!
Chowhound has a lavender-thyme syrup that provides strong floral notes to a vodka or gin-based drink, so add a small dash of it to your gimlet when you’re sitting out doing nothing for what feels like the millionth spring day in a row.
Additionally, swap out the leaves in Chowhound’s rose-geranium pound cake with half a teaspoon of your own homemade rose syrup for subtle floral flavors.
It seems like we’ll be at home for a while longer, so get creative with your floral syrups and share your recipes and ideas with your friends on social media! Bringing new flavors to your kitchen will make not being able to go outside just a little sweeter.
Header image courtesy of Aniko Hobel / Moment / Getty Images