Lilacs? Edible? Oh YES.
A while ago – probably two years ago, really, when I first learned I could make jelly with the cute little violets in our yard – I learned Lilac Jelly was a thing. The trouble was… I didn’t have lilacs. Our neighbors do, but theirs haven’t really bloomed much in the last few years for me to even be able to ask. This recipe has pretty much just hung around in the back of my mind, waiting for a time where I might get my hands on some lilacs at just the right time to try it.
And then this week happened. My new job has lilacs in the flower beds. My coworker went out to pick some to bring into the office, so I asked if she thought it would be okay if I snagged some to take home to try this jelly thing. She didn’t seem to think it was an issue, so on my way out the door for the weekend I snagged a few branches of them.
Now, let me tell you: I had my doubts. The violets don’t smell like lilacs do. And these lilacs were so strong smelling that I really worried that the resulting jelly would be…. well, overpoweringly floral. I doubted myself through this entire process, because even after the lilacs steeped the resulting “tea” was still strong smelling. And even as I cooked it and added the sugar I could still smell it. But I was committed to this process, and it was too late to turn back now. I poured the jelly into the jars, popped them into the water bath canner, and then dug into the leftovers that stuck in the pot with my finger. Yes, that’s right – I ate the jelly straight. Without bread.
And you know? It’s DAMN GOOD. I can’t decide what flavor it reminds me of. The violet jelly reminds me a bit of berries… this lilac jelly version has a hint of peach, I think? I could be crazy, though. And now I know, if the apocalypse ever hits, that I have one more thing I can forage and cook/eat. :)
Edit to add: This is the recipe I used, but I only used it loosely since it looked to be the exact same process as I’ve been using for the violet jelly version.