Recipes from the Garden – Lilac Simple Syrup

What is more quintessentially spring than the early blooms of lilac flowers? Lilacs are some of the first spring flowers to bloom which provide essential nectar for our pollinators and fill the air with their sweet fragrance. Lilac shrubs are often used as ornamental privacy barriers in the urban landscape and sport both purple and white flowers. If you don’t have a lilac shrub of your own, make sure to ask your neighbor’s permission before harvesting the blooms and be sure that the shrub hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. When possible, harvest blooms that are fully open and beginning to wilt. Saving the budding blossoms and active flowers for our pollinators is greatly appreciated.

This simple syrup is extremely versatile. It can be used to add floral notes to sodas, kombucha, tea lattes, cocktails, coffee, and more! I made a grapefruit lilac soda! The syrup recipe uses simple ratios that allow for easy herbal substitutes. For example, replace the amount of lilac used for dandelion to create a dandelion simple syrup. 

We use heat and dry herbs for this recipe, however, you could also use fresh herbs if you’d like to cold-infuse cream or milks. It’s fun to experiment to see what you like best! 

Recipe courtesy of: Tayler Jones (SEE 2022 Garden Manager)


Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons dried lilac (or herb of choice)
  • 1 cup sugar

Grapefruit Lilac Soda

  • 1 7.5 oz can of club soda (Or sparkling water. I chose club soda for its slight saltiness to balance the sweet syrup)
  • 1 Tablespoon lilac simple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon grapefruit juice
  1. Dry fresh flowers/herbs in a single, flat layer for 2 days.
  2. In a small pot, bring water to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add herbs to boiled water. Cover, and let steep for 15 minutes.
  4. Place a bowl with 1 cup of sugar to the side.
  5. After steeping, pour the herbal water through a sieve into the bowl of sugar. The sieve will catch the herbal remnants.
  6. Whisk together sugar and herbal water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
  7. For the grapefruit lilac soda, simply combine all ingredients and stir. Add more syrup or fruit juice to your liking.

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