Preparing Lilacs for Recipes
I found a few recipes recently that call for lilacs. Who knew lilacs were edible? I certainly didn’t. And what great timing to discover these culinary uses the same week mine bloomed!
To prepare lilacs for recipes, first you need to go pick a whole bunch of them. Get them from a trusted source, where you are sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Pick some extra to put in a vase in the house.
NOTE: If you wait a few days after the lilacs have bloomed and collect them just as the blossoms are starting to fall off the bush, this task is immensely easier! The blossoms will literally fall off the stems into the bowl with either a good shake or a very gentle tug.
Rinse them really well (I dunk them in a bowl of water and swish them around) and then gently shake off excess water. Or you could try using a salad spinner, which you’ll use later anyway.
Pick them apart a bit into tiny clumps, and put them in a bowl.
Get another bowl for “discards” and a third bowl for the picked blossoms and buds. Now comes the fun! Pick the petals and buds off of the small clumps. Make sure no green leaves or stems are left on the petals, like those on the right. (Note: if you’re using the lilacs for syrup, it’s okay to leave a little stem on them since they get strained out anyway. But not too much, or it could affect the flavor.)
Keep on picking the blossoms. Yes, it’s a slow process, but is a great no-brainer activity while watching TV. The bowl will eventually fill up, but it does take some time.
Give the picked blossoms a final rinse: Put them in a big bowl of water, swish them around a bit, and then skim them from the top by hand. The unwanted bits conveniently sink to the bottom, while the blossoms float on top. How cool is that?
Dry the rinsed blossoms really well. I use a salad spinner and worked in small batches, and it works great.
Empty the dried petals onto a clean dishcloth and allow them to completely dry. Now you are ready to use them!
Here are a couple suggestions: