Did you know that lilacs are edible?

Lilacs from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

They are so crazy beautiful and they smell SO good…I absolutely swoon when my bushes begin to bloom. I get a big sad face on when all the flowers drop, so I decided to preserve some of them…in honey!

Lilac honey from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

Have I told you yet about how my bees died? (Cue the sad face again.) Yes, it’s true. My hive was infected with a very bad case of mites in the fall and it made the bees weak and unable to survive the winter. I liked keeping bees alot, so I am really bummed. I will probably get some new bees in the future: not this year, but maybe next.

Anyway, I had to clean out the hive and squeeze all of the honey out of the frames a month or two ago. It was a big job, and a messy, messy one, let me tell you. But I ended up with lots of glorious, dark, raw, unfiltered honey that I’ve truly been savoring. I used that honey to make this recipe.

Making lilac honey is very simple. To make it, just remove lots of (clean and dry) flowers from the lilac stems and pack them into a glass jar (I used one of my teeny Weck ones). You’ll be surprised how many you can fit in the jar if you REALLY pack them in (ie don’t just fill the jar…stuff the jar!). Once your jar is very full, pour honey over the blossoms. Start by pouring just a little, let it settle in amongst the blossoms, then add some more. Repeat until you can’t fit any more honey in the jar. When you check on your honey a day or so later, you will see that the blossoms have all floated toward the top of the jar. Give it a good stir to distribute the blossoms throughout before use. You can use the honey at any point- it does not need to steep, though it’s fine if it does.

Lilacs have a flavor faintly reminiscent of citrus, and they may be a little bitter: I think the honey tempers this bitterness nicely. Lilac honey can be enjoyed on toast, biscuits, muffins, scones, etc. You can also just eat it off a spoon (local, raw honey can be helpful for spring allergies). If you don’t want to make lilac honey, other ways to use lilacs include tossing them into salads or drinks, candying them, or see the recipes I’ve linked to at the end of this post.

Lilac Honey from Healthy Green Kitchen

I want to thank everyone for entering my Weck jar giveaway. I have notified the winner, but if you’d like to receive a discount on Weck jars (plus free shipping if you spend more than $50), you may go ahead and use this link provided by Annie over at Mighty Nest. When you check out, type WECK10 in the promo box to get 10% off. The coupon is good for one week from today.

More recipes featuring lilacs:
Lilac Ice Cream from Cookblog
Lilac Cream Crepes from Taste of Home
Lilac Jelly from Morgan Botanicals

More info on lilacs:
The Secrets of the Lilac by Jeanne Rose
Lovely Lilacs at Care2.com

 

47 Comments

  1. 1

    Letty — May 23, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

    Oooooh, you make we wish I had lilacs! I need to see if they can grow in my area.

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

      Where do you live?

  2. 2

    Georgie — May 23, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

    WOW! Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe. I never knew you harvested honey! How very cool and the lilacs are beautiful and just brilliant.

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

      Thanks Georgie!

  3. 3

    Wilma — May 23, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

    So sad. My lilacs just died a few days ago. This sounds delicious & I’ll try to remember it next year!

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

      Definitely make it next year!

  4. 4

    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — May 24, 2013 @ 9:04 am

    There is NOTHING better than the smell of lilacs. And yet, I don’t have any bushes at our house. Every spring I resolve to buy some and plant them and it still hasn’t happened. I might have to steal some from my parents’ house to make this so I can preserve that smell :)

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

      Make sure you plant some next year!

  5. 5

    Gill Bland — May 24, 2013 @ 9:57 am

    I just found this by clicking through from your Paleo article. Both are very interesting. I had no idea Lilacs were edible!
    Alo, coincidentally I had just read this blog post aout Dandelion Honey Hurray for two new discoveries in one day!

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

      Thanks for coming by…hope you visit my blog again!

  6. 6

    Fawn — May 24, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    Love this idea. I grew up with a lot of lilacs around, and would sometimes go to the Lilac Festival in Spokane, WA. Always a beautiful sign of springtime…

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

      I didn’t know about the Lilac Festival but I remember the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival from when I lived in the area…

  7. 7

    Link Love | Hy-vee Health State of Mind — May 24, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

    [...] I love the idea of adding flowers to food [...]

  8. 8

    Paula — May 24, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

    I’m sorry about the loss of your hive. Poor hard-working bees. They certainly left you some gorgeous looking honey, made all the more flavourful with your beautiful and fragrant lilacs.

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

      Yeah, I was very bummed.

  9. 9

    Anna — May 24, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

    I had no idea lilacs were edible. I keep thinking they are so amazing and special because they are purely aesthetic — no other purpose than beauty and an incredible aroma that is so fleeting, but now I know that they can also be eaten. So interesting!

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

      Thanks Anna!

  10. 10

    Karla — May 25, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    My lilacs never bloom because they get too much shade (I don’t know what whoever planted them was thinking). I was thinking about substituting dandelions, which are abundant in my yard, and then I see a reference in the comments! Thanks to both of you.

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

      Dandelions are definitely edible, of course, but won’t produce the same kind of fragrant honey…let me know if you tried that, though!

  11. 11

    Karla — May 25, 2013 @ 9:21 am

    So, I’ve read the dandelion post now, and though it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was still very cool.

  12. 12

    The Wimpy Vegetarian — May 25, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    I had a beautiful lilac bush where I lived about 10 years ago and still miss it every spring. There’s nothing like the beauty and scent of it when in full bloom. I had no idea the flowers were edible and what a great idea to add them to honey!!

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

      I didn’t know they were edible until this year and I’ve had lilacs for years, too!

  13. 13

    Barbara — May 25, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    So sorry about your bees. My dad and I kept bees when I was a little girl. Lately I’ve had a yen for a hive, but I’m not sure how to get started. Tried to find a class nearby, but no luck. Lost my momentum.

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

      I did take a class but to be honest, beekeeping is pretty complicated. See if there is a beekeeping group in your area that has monthly meetings. Those are helpful for learning and meeting people with the similar interest.

  14. 14

    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — May 25, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

    So beautiful, a jar of this honey would make an incredible edible gift!

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

      I wish I had made more than just the one small jar!

  15. 15

    Lisa the Gourmet Wog — May 26, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    What a wonderful idea! I had no idea you could eat lilacs, thanks for this tip

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

      You’re welcome ;)

  16. 16

    Martha — May 26, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    I know honey preserves things, but how long do you think the lilac honey will last unfrigerated?

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

      I think it would last indefinitely. I cannot think of why not.

  17. 17

    irina @ wandercrush — May 27, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    Lovely! I’ve never used lilacs in the kitchen before, but it seems like such a perfect springtime flavour. I just attended a seminar on beekeeping and honey, so this recipe has come at a particularly inspired time ;)

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

      Are you going to be keeping bees, then?

  18. 18

    Jane Abston — May 28, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

    Wow! I never thought lilac can be edible. I just told my husband about it and he laughed at me thinking that I was making fun of him. Anyway, I wish I can try it. I’m just really curious.

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

      They really don’t taste all that great on their own…

  19. 19

    Marcy Dearing — May 28, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

    Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I can’t get the discount code to work. I’m finally getting garden boxes in this year and can’t wait to can the abundance of delicious produce I dream of harvesting come fall! but first I’m going to harvest some lilacs…

    • Winnie replied: — May 29th, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

      Hi Marcy,
      Did you use the link I provided, and then type in WECK10 in the promo box at checkout? Jealous if you still have lilacs…mine are now all gone…wish I’d made more of this honey!

  20. 20

    Marcy — May 29, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    I did! It says the code is invalid or expired. Am I the only one having issues?

    • Winnie replied: — May 29th, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

      I will check with Mighty Nest and see what’s going on…

  21. 21

    Quick Tip: Lilac Honey | Diane's Food Blog — May 30, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    [...] idea is to pack a jar with lilac blossoms and then fill the jar with honey. I based my recipe off this one. For an 8-ounce jar, use: 1 C lilac blossoms, tightly packed (See my method here for harvesting, [...]

  22. 22

    Wendym — May 31, 2013 @ 1:19 am

    I really miss my lilacs and my bees! :( I moved from Ontario to California and this is my first spring without them. I had no idea that I could have been making lilac honey all these years! Thank you for sharing your very delicious looking honey…I can almost smell and taste it! I am happy to share an effective organic varroa mite treatment with you when you decide to get back to the bees again:)

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

      Ok thanks! I may need it ;)

  23. 23

    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen — May 31, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

    Gorgeous honey and photography, Winnie! Oh, how I miss all the lilac bushes I grew up with. Such a happy, intoxicating scent. Glad for you to have them on your property to enjoy. However, so sorry to hear about the loss of your honey bees! I read a story about the mite infestations threatening the bee population. Ugh. Without the honey bees, we are done for. (Einstein was right.) This “plague” seems biblical to me. We shall all pray for the honey bee! Such a fab idea to infuse honey with the flavor and scent of lilacs, Winnie. Love this idea! xo

    • Winnie replied: — June 1st, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

      Thanks Stacy…I do hope to get back to keeping bees in the future.

  24. 24

    Letty — June 2, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    Hi Winnie, I live in Southern California. From what I can find, there may be some hybrids that will grow, but they may not bloom or be as fragrant. We just don’t get enough winter chill. I may do more research on the “Lavender Lady” to see if it will work for our area.

  25. 25

    Links: BPA-free Lids, Lilac Honey, and a Dry Herb Jar Winner | Food in Jars — June 3, 2013 @ 12:00 am

    [...] lilac season is over in my area, but I’m keeping this lilac honey in mind for next [...]

  26. 26

    Choclette — June 16, 2013 @ 8:12 am

    I heard about using lilacs for making syrup earlier this year and I’ve been looking for a source of lilacs ever since – sadly to no avail. Your lilac honey sounds even better though. I did make dandelion honey for the first time this year though and I was very pleased with that.

    I’m very sorry to hear about your bees. We started keeping a hive last year and didn’t think they’d make it through to this year as it was such a bad year last year and has been an appalling spring this year. Touch wood, they are still with us. maybe one day we will get to try some of their honey.

  27. 27

    At home with FSW52 Ingredients: Edible Flowers | FSW@Home — April 15, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

    […] Lilac honey¬†and lilac sugar, just in time for spring! […]