For more, see: Recipes to Use Spring Blooms.
Sweet Honeysuckle Syrup
Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) sports scented flowers that aren’t just pretty — they’re also powerfully anti-viral and antibacterial. Used in China for centuries to help fight colds and flu, the flowers can soothe an inflamed sore throat and cool down an overheated body on a warm day.
A delicately flavored honeysuckle syrup is a perfect addition to any light, sweet beverage. Try adding a splash to lemonade, fizzy water, sparkling wine, or hot tea, or drizzle it over fresh berries. Honey may overwhelm honeysuckle’s delicate flavor, which is why I often use white sugar. However, if you’d like to capitalize on honey’s medicinal and healthful properties, then choose a mild varietal, such as a light clover honey or a local wildflower honey.
You can also use fresh nasturtium flowers (Tropaeolum spp.) instead of honeysuckle, which will create a golden, peppery syrup. (Learn more about edible nasturtiums in How to Grow Nasturtiums.)
• 1 cup fresh honeysuckle flowers (or 1/2 cup dried)
• 1-1/4 cups water
• About 1 cup sugar
1. Gently shake the honeysuckle flowers to remove any dirt or insects.
2. Separate the flowers from the stems and discard any leaves and berries, which can be poisonous in large amounts.
3. Place the flowers in a heat-proof ceramic or glass container.
4. Bring the water to a boil. Pour it over the flowers and cover the container.
5. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
6. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the solids.
7. Measure the remaining liquid — you should have about 1 cup.
8. Combine the liquid and an equal volume of sugar (about 1 cup) in a saucepan.
9. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
10. Simmer for another minute.
11. Remove from the heat and let cool.
12. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Emily Han is a forager and drink-maker with a passion for bridging herbalism and beverages. This excerpt from Wild Drinks and Cocktails is courtesy of Fair Winds Press.