Flower Power: Make the most of lilac season by turning the petals into tasty ingredients

lilac simple syrup

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.


Rinse them really well (I dunk them in a bowl of water and swish them around) and then gently shake off excess water. Pick them apart a bit into tiny clumps, and put them in a bowl. Get another bowl for "discards" and a third bolw for the picked blossoms and buds. Here is my discard bowl in the "picked blossoms" bowl.  


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.

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. I put mine 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. After drying, empty the dried petals onto a clean dishcloth. Now you're ready to use them. 

For example, try some lilac syrup (follow this link for step-by-step instructions), which makes a great addition to lemonade or cocktails. You can also make lilac sugar, and use that in recipes for everything from cookies to muffins. Happy baking, and enjoy lilac season!


Diane Fluin is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer/editor and a self-proclaimed foodie. For more than two years, she has been documenting her culinary exploits on Diane’s Food Blog, which is geared toward less-experienced home cooks as well as seasoned chefs. The blog entices readers with interesting recipes, appealing photos, and step-by-step details that bring each recipe to life.