"The smell of lilacs crept poignantly into the room like a remembered spring."
Lilac season is a moment to behold. It signals spring is here to stay and summer is not far off. The very air is perfumed by its presence and we want to soak it all in.
Lilacs are small trees that typically bloom in April or May, depending on your location, for just a few short weeks so connecting with this plant, when it is in its full glory, is of the essence.
Lilac's scent can not be captured in an essential oil because it isn't contained in the plant as a volatile oil. But we can harness its floral nature by transferring the aroma to neutral mediums in baking and cosmetics. It will never truly be the same as smelling the real deal, but you can create a seasonal experience from working with them.
Lilac flowers are edible! It's best to avoid the leaves and green parts so always pull each bloom off the panicle. While their scent is a floral wonder to behold, their taste can have an astringent back note. When cooking or baking with lilac flowers, it's best to use gentle heat to minimize the astringent flavor. Be sure to only harvest from places where you have permission and know the trees haven't been sprayed.
You can do so many wonderful things with lilacs! There are several preparations when working with lilac in the kitchen such as a sugar, jelly, syrup, cordial, lemonade, glazes, and milk based recipes. Also, try your hand at body care recipes such as an oil, scrub or facial toner to enhance your herbal apothecary.
Let's make a spring pudding with the essence of lilac extracted in two ways through flavored sugar and steeped milk. Using two methods makes for a strong lilac flavor though it is still very mild. No need to use a light hand, like you might when working with lavender buds or rose water.
Lemon zest and juice are used optional in this recipe to brighten the flavors. You can omit them if you simply want a creamy floral flavor or increase the quantity if you'd prefer a truly lilac lemon pudding.
Lilac Pudding would make for a lovely Mother's Day treat, dainty addition to a spring tea party or an enchanted offering to the fairies on May day.
M A K E
1 c lilac flowers, fresh, green parts removed
1 c sugar
Blend the ingredients in a food processor.
Spread onto a lined baking sheet to dry. Stir every few hours as the sugar will be moist and harden as it dries.
After dried, run it through the food processor again if you'd like to break up the clumps.
Transfer to a lidded jar and store in a cool, dry place.
2 c lilac flowers, fresh, green parts removed
2 1/4 c whole milk
Add lilac flowers to a mason jar and pour over milk. Steep in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours.
Strain the flowers. They will absorb some of the milk. You should have about 2 cups remaining. Set aside.
2 c lilac milk, divided
1/2 c lilac sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp lemon zest, optional
1/2 tsp lemon juice, optional
Bowl or large measuring cup
In a saucepan, pour 1 1/2 cups lilac milk, lilac sugar and salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
In a bowl, add egg yolks, cornstarch and vanilla extract. Stir to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.
Once the sweetened lilac milk is warmed, scoop out about about 1/4 c and pour it into the bowl to gently warm the egg yolk mixture. Stir well. Add a second 1/4 c to the bowl. Stir well again.
Pour the contents of the bowl into the saucepan. Keep heat on medium. Whisk continuously until the texture turns to a pudding like consistency. It may take up to 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the butter plus lemon zest and lemon juice, if you are using them. Mix well.
Pour the pudding into two ramekins. If you'd like, place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the ramekins to discourage a film from forming on top of the pudding as it cools down. Put in the fridge to solidify for at least 4 hours.
For educational purposes only.
Not intended for medical advice.
Always consult your physician.
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