Homemade Lilac Extract
This recipe is featured in Foraging in the Garden - Using Lilac Blossoms to Make Extract
Lilac blooms are not just ornamental, they are flavorful, too, and may be used to make a delicious and unusual extract for flavoring foods.
130 grams (4.5 ounces) lilac blooms, including small stems will yield about 50 grams (1 ½ ounces) of plucked blooms, enough for both phases of the distillation process.
For more about foraging for lilac blossoms, read Mary Grube’s article.
- 25 grams (¾ ounce) pesticide-free lilac blossoms for each phase of the distillation process
- 237 ml (8-ounce) glass canning jar with a lid
- Vodka to cover blossoms, about 237 ml (1 cup)
- Sugar to taste (optional)
1. Place the lilac blossoms, still attached to small stems, in a colander. Place the colander in the sink and gently wash the blooms.
2. Pluck or cut the blooms from each cluster, being careful to leave the green bit at the end which can cause the extract to taste bitter.
3. Fill an 237 ml (8-ounce) glass canning jar with the blooms to the fill line (or .6 cm/¼ inch from the top) as shown in the photograph. Carefully tap the jar on a surface to gently compact the blooms.
4. Pour vodka over the blooms to cover them completely, place the lid on the jar and turn to seal closed.
5. Place the jar in a dark place and allow the blooms to steep in the vodka until the blooms turn pale and nearly translucent. (This should take 2 days.) *This is the first distillation phase.
6. Drain the vodka and blooms through a fine mesh strainer set over a 473 ml (2-cup) spouted measuring cup and press firmly on the blooms to remove as much liquid as possible. Reserve the vodka infusion, which should now have a slightly floral scent but discard the lilacs.
7. Fill the jar with fresh lilac blooms as before. This time, pour the reserved infused vodka over the top. Replace the lid and once again store the jar in a dark place until the petals become nearly translucent.
8. Repeat this process of straining and replacing until the vodka smells like lilacs, probably 4 times total.
9. When the infusion is strained for the final time, press out as much liquid as possible and discard the blooms as before. This time, strain the last infusion of liquid through a paper towel-lined fine mesh strainer into a clean 473 ml (2-cup) spouted measuring cup and taste the extract. If a pinch of sugar is needed to balance flavors, make that adjustment.
10. Pour the lilac extract into a glass bottle of choice, label, store or use whenever a recipe calls for extract.