Time for some pleasure... the Lilacs are here! Lilacs are such a welcomed spring flowering shrub. There are about 25 different varieties, the main differences being flower color. Light purple is most common, and there is also white, dark purple, pink, variegated, and a double blossom. The flowers grow in a panicle cluster, and many varieties are fragrant. The leaves are opposite in arrangement and are heart shaped. Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is often planted as an ornamental shrub in yards. Make sure the bush has not been sprayed before you gather your flowers.
There are many recipes for 'Candied Lilac Flowers', 'Lilac Flower Syrup', and 'Lilac Flower Jelly'. Candied flowers are made by brushing the individual tiny flowers with beaten egg white and sprinkling them with superfine sugar. Yes, a time consuming process, and should be done on a dry day. The results are pretty, and make lovely additions to sweet creations. Syrups are added to seltzer and other mocktails and cocktails for pleasure. Many require cane sugar and so limit who can or will make such recipes these days with cane sugar mindfulness and sensitivities.
I love the floral scent, of course, and taste initially. This gives way to a subtle bitterness with hints of citrus. One would think, 'bitter'? Well yes, in spring we need bitter components in our diet to assist with the seasonal transitions. Bitter helps our kidneys, liver, and digestive systems make the shift and bring each major filtering organ a beautiful spring tonic too.
Long respected and still whispering ancient wisdom through the two volume book "The Modern Herbal", Maude Grieves also speaks of lilac flowers, leaves, and fruit as having a long history of carrying medicinal qualities. "Used as a vermifuge in America and as a tonic anti-periodic and febrifuge; may be used as a substitute for aloe to treat skin issues and in the treatment of malaria". Vermifuges are for ridding the body of parasites, hence the bitter component it embodies. Febrifuges are a group of plants that help reduce fever.
Lilac Flower Essence is easily made if you've been taught how or easily sourced as well. Matthias and Andrea Reisen of Healing Spirits Herb Farm provide one form their gorgeous organic and biodynamic farm and suggest it be called on for assistance with 'standing tall, uprightness with lightness: Helps those who burden themselves, refusing help from others. Brings in laughter, easing painful memories and restoring joy'.
Here are two of my favorite recipes for Springtime. ENJOY! xo-Jen
Recipe: Lilac Flower Infused Honey
~ Fill jar with freshly picked flowers with a little room at the top.
~Pour over honey to the top, stir with a chopped stick to get the air bubbles up and out.
~Now you have two choices on how to proceed:
Recipe: Lilac Flower Infused Massage Oil
~Fill jar with wilted flowers. We allow the flowers to wilt which simply means water is leaving. This is good when making oils as they can spoil more quickly with the water present.
~Cover with carrier oil and cap.
~Allow to infuse for up to 6 weeks. Stir and watch to be sure no air bubbles are present and if so just stir with a chop stick in circular motion to release them.
~After 6 weeks strain through several layers of cheese cloth or muslin
~To Use: Add to all-purpose salve formulations or as a base for an aromatic massage oil by adding 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Any citrus one you love, or Lavender goes well with Lilac Infused Oil. This can be applied for tired muscles or as a back, chest, and neck massge to help reduce fever. Maybe an all over massage just for pleasure because we all work hard is the medicine needed. Enjoy!
Are you ready to deepen your walk with the plants as medicine keepers and make this part of your primary healthcare for yourself and your beloveds? Take a look at our herbal classes starting soon.
There's an on-line apprenticing course to get you started, or fill in the gaps right where you are, if that is what you're needing. There's a live course starting in May 2016 where you walk with Jen Costa, Herbalist, for 13 Moons and learn how to find you own way of moving with the plants. Full descriptions below.
Jennifer Costa, Herbalist, Teacher, BS, RN, CST, and Founder of ElderMoon School of Herbs & Earth Medicine