Monday, June 30, 2014

Homemade Summer Honeysuckle Simple Syrup

homemade summer honeysuckle simple syrup
If I could encompass one thing about my childhood... it would probably include the hunt for + the sweet taste of honeysuckles. As I have lived in the South my whole life, once spring came around, the honeysuckle flower bushes began to pop up everywhere you went. There is something so gorgeous, yet simple, of honeysuckle vine weaving in + out of a white picket fence or lining a perfectly manicured lawn. Their scent is intoxicating, almost like a Michael Kors or Marc Jacobs perfume. Its' essence wafts through the air and peer pressures you into taking a deep breath and enjoyin' the smell + the sun. I loved the days that my friends and I would wander the streets of our neighborhood looking for the flowers that we could drain of their sweet honey nectar. We literally would spend hours doing it. Fast-forward 10-20 years and I still get transported back to those years while I'm driving with my top down during the summer. I kept thinking to myself, why can't their be a honeysuckle perfume? a honeysuckle vodka? honeysuckle cookies? honeysuckle everything. Then, I came across a wonderful blog by a good 'ole southern young lady (like myself), Hannah from Honey & Jam. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, I seriously urge you to do so. Her recipes are simple, yet scrumptious and her imagery is phenomenal. She developed a recipe for Honeysuckle Simple Syrup that she used to sweeten her sweet tea (a.k.a. the elixir of the South). I just knew I had to try it. So, I waited a year. Literally, a year, until the honeysuckles would bloom again. The second I saw the flowers starting to blossom, I grabbed my Mountain Man and we went honeysuckle-hunting. I'd say we cruised the streets of Buckhead for over another collecting eight, yes EIGHT, cups of honeysuckle blossoms.




After getting all of our honeysuckles, I took them home and started the simple syrup. I decided to take a different route than Hannah by placing all the blossoms into a large mixing bowl, and then boiling together sugar, water, and honey until a simple syrup was formed. I added the honey because I thought that it would enhance and bring out those natural flavors that I love so much from the flowers. I poured the hot liquid over the flowers and let them steep for at least 24 hours, that way the floral notes would pass into the simple syrup and create a overwhelming moment of honeysuckle joy when used. Once they have infused, simply strain the flowers through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a pretty jar (making sure to use a rubber spatula to get as much as that sweet-honey-goodness out as much as possible). Then, all you gotta do is store it in the refrigerator until it is cold. Our first drink we made was Honeysuckle Lemonade-- and it was fabulous (and its' recipe will be posted next). But my mind won't stop racing with ideas what you could use this for... honeysuckle mint juleps, honey suckle moscow mules, honeysuckle sweet tea, heirloom tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella drizzled with a little syrup to sweeten it up a bit (instead of balsamic). I mean the possibilities are endless!! I cannot wait to share all the recipes we have been making up using the small component. It's the perfect summer treat!! Enjoy :)

For the Honeysuckle Syrup:
8C Honeysuckle Flowers (whole, stems + leaves removed)
3C Water
2C Sugar
1C Honey
Pinch of Salt

Directions:
1. Preparing the Honeysuckles: Pick through your eight cups of honeysuckle flowers, making sure to remove any stems or leaves that remain…we just want the flower and its’ sweet honey nectar. Place the honey into a large bowl and make the simple syrup.
2.  For the Honey Simple Syrup: Place the honey, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil, and simmer until the honey is completely dissolved. Pour in the syrup into the bowl of prepare honeysuckles and let it cool completely on the counter overnight (covered with plastic wrap) until the flower flavor as steeped into the simple syrup liquid.
3. Finishing the Honeysuckle Syrup: Strain the honeysuckle flowers out of the infused simple syrup through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a big bottle.
4. Chill the honeysuckle simple syrup until cold and serve in lemonade, sweet tea, Moscow mules, mint juleps, and many other drinks! Enjoy :)


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