Lilac Time

After a very cold wet introduction, spring has bowed out to summer almost overnight. The tulips I planted last fall bloomed and faded quickly, and almost everything else cooked in the heat. The apple tree bloomed profusely and then it seemed the petals fell off in the span of a day. It’s a wonder there are any lilacs left, but they have managed to survive. Everywhere I walk I can smell their fragrance. Something I’m not used to seeing is white lilacs–there are as many as the purple variety.

To try to preserve a bit of lilac springtime, I decided to make lilac syrup and jelly. The lilac bush outside my kitchen windows needed a good haircut anyway, so I had my husband clip down some branches, especially the ones that rasp on the eaves when it’s windy.

The syrup was very easy, and will make a nice addition to summer drinks. It’s basically a simple syrup made with lilac floret tea. I’ve tried freezing some in ice cube trays–we’ll see if the subtle fragrance survives.

The jelly was less satisfying. I used this recipe. I only had liquid pectin and used 2 pouches. It was a long weekend and there was no way I was going near a store. It took quite some time to carefully strip the florets from the stems, leaving no greenery attached. After soaking the florets in water overnight, I strained out the ‘tea’ and added in the other ingredients.

The result was a very mild flavoured jelly–not distinctly lilac. Other recipes call for more lilac florets, and I think if I were to make this jelly again, I would use double the florets. I would also use real lemon juice rather than bottled.

The canned jars look very pretty. Even if the results were unexciting, it was a fun experiment and perhaps I will feel differently in cold December if I can catch a whiff of spring fragrance.