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Lilac flowers.

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I've always thought that lilacs are more or less toxic.

But a few weeks ago, somebody said on the forageahead list that they're edible.

Hmmm, thought I, and waited for our lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) to flower.

They're in flower now.

Photo: Syringa vulgaris 5. Pic: Lilac flowers. Trawling the net, I found a handful of recipes. Most all of them said to pick the single flowers out of the flowerheads, and to discard the green parts.
And most all of them said to pick very strongly scented flowers, just opened, and to cut them up coarsely.

So I did.

I found one recipe for a bread spread: put a tablespoon or two of chopped-up strongly scented de-greened lilac flowers into a few tablespoons of cream cheese (or sourcream), add a pinch of salt, serve on dark bread. This tastes of cream cheese (or sourcream) and salt. Add a few more tablespoons of chopped-up lilac flowers, and it starts to taste bitter-sour with a hint of perfume. Bleh.

I found a recipe for tea: pour 2 dl boiling water over a tablespoon of chopped-up flowers, let sit for a while, strain, serve. This tastes of nothing at all. Add more flowers and it gets bitterish-sour and floral. Bleh.

And I found a recipe for sorbet. I didn't bother making that, cos frozen sugarwater with a bitterish-sour floral taste doesn't sound all that appealing. That is, the idea isn't appealing enough to offset the certain tediousness of cleaning the ice cream machine after making sorbet (or ice cream).

I expect that the reason for there being so few lilac flower recipes out there is that "edible" doesn't equate to "tasty".

(OK, it might be that I just had bad luck: according to this NCSU horticultural information leaflet on edible flowers the flavor of lilac flowers varies "from no flavor to green and herbaceous to lilac".)

The flowers are pretty, though, and as they're really almost tasteless (in sane amounts) you can use them to decorate fruit salads, water jugs, and similar. And who knows, your lilac flowers might be tastier than those I picked.


Oh, I am jealous! I so love the smell of fresh lilacs. Ours have been spent for more than a month now here near Seattle. I taught my children this spring to pick the flowers and suck the nectar from the bottom end of the flower (sorry, I don't know the scientific name for that part of the plant). It is very sweet in a teeny tiny portion. I've never eaten the flowers, but I have fond memories of sucking the nectar as a child. The more fragrent the flower the better the flavor.

I was just relating this post to my daughter who then told me that she had eaten a few lilacs this spring. When I asked how they tasted her reply was, "Like a flower." Well that settles it.

The lilac flowers I dried had a heavenly scent, but perhaps that'll only keep for a very short while?
Mmmm, flower nectar.
And if these flowers had been at all tasty I'd have frozen some for later use.

I just finished making a pot of soup with whatever random vegetables I had kicking around the bin, and it came out to be the most heavenly shade of lilac. I had cut up some purple cabbage of course.
As I peered into this this gentle pool of colors I wondered about eating lilac. It sounds as though it it cannot be harnessed as we would like it to be, the way violets have given us their gentle permission, but my guess is the sorbet may be the only way to suspend the flavor. Possibly, cold and or sugar might just give us a hint of flavor from the mystique of the lilac. I'm guessing here, but maybe bruising the flower makes a mix of oxidation which adulterates the flavor.
Food for thought...(forgive me ..just had to say that, so apropos). Deb

Dunno, they all said to cut them up coarsely, and that didn't taste very good. You could make the sorbet and let us know how that turns out, though. Thanks!

Here is a site that tells you to remove the pistils and anthers of the blooms because they're bitter ( ) and it shows a diagram so you can see what those things are. I'm new to lilac and lavender consumption too and tried them today and they were bitter-sweet. After researching and finding that website, I tried them again and they were sweet and not bad at all! I hope this helps!


I'll give that a try, once the lilac starts to flower here (should be any week now). Thanks!