Foraged Forsythia Honey Syrup + The Yogi Bear (A Bees Knees Riff)
It's been a long, cold winter and the bright yellow blossoms of our forsythia bushes are an incredibly welcome sight to see. We actually had more snow last week, but somehow new life is beginning to emerge, the first signs of Spring peeking through the gray-brown New Hampshire landscape. I've been really interested in wild edible plants recently, and specifically, local, New England-native edible flowers I can forage for.
When I learned that forsythia blossoms are edible, I was so excited - we have half a dozen large bushes around the yard and back field. So after a little internet research on the best way to make a syrup with them, I put Isla in a sling, grabbed a basket, and we set out to collect some newly opened blossoms.
The first time I make any new syrup, I typically make a pretty small batch (unless it's a really time-consuming one). One reason is that I don't always add vodka or another alcohol to my syrups, which will lengthen how long they last. I like to create them, enjoy them, use them up, and not have leftovers to go to waste in the back of the fridge. I decided to aim for about 1 cup of finished forsythia syrup, so I decided I'd need to collect about 2-3 loosely packed cups of forsythia blossoms. I ended up with about 2.5 before we got caught in a downpour (hey, at least it wasn't snow!)
Forsythia has a lovely, subtle floral flavor, and if you leave the green part at the base of the blossom on, it imparts a bit of green, plant-y flavor as well. I opted to use about half whole blossoms and the other half I plucked the yellow petals and discarded the green base, so the floral flavor wouldn't be overpowered by vegetal flavors. Once I had plucked and separated my flowers, I rinsed them well under cool water in a colander and set them on paper towels to dry a bit while I prepared the syrup base. After tasting a few fresh forsythia blossoms, I decided honey would be the perfect addition to the syrup, to add a depth and richness, and enhance the fresh, Spring-y flavor.
For the syrup base, I measured out 1/4 cup of organic honey and 1/4 of white sugar into a 2 cup glass measuring cup and put my tea kettle on. Once the water was boiling, I placed the forsythia blossoms into the measuring cup, and poured 1/2 cup of hot water over them. I gently stirred to dissolve the sugar and honey, covered the measuring cup (to capture any fragrant essential oils that might dissipate in the steam) and let the mixture sit until it had cooled to room temperature. Once cooled, I gave it a good stir, covered the cup with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to steep overnight.
The next day, I stirred the syrup again, strained it through a fine mesh strainer into a small mason jar and added a splash of vodka to help preserve it.
Forsythia Honey Syrup Recipe
- 2-3 cups loosely packed fresh forsythia blossoms
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup organic honey
- 1/4 white sugar
- 1 oz vodka (optional)
Remove the green bottoms of about half the blossoms, if desired (read: if you have the patience). Rinse the flowers well in a colander under cool water and set aside on paper towels to dry. Add the honey and sugar to a heat safe glass measuring cup or jar. Heat the water in a tea kettle or microwave until boiling. Place forsythia blossoms in the measuring cup with honey and sugar, and pour the hot water over. Stir gently to dissolve the honey and sugar. Cover and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, stir gently, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small mason jar and add about an ounce of vodka, if desired, to preserve. Store in the refrigerator. I recommend using within 2-3 weeks.
The taste of this syrup is divine: subtle floral honeyed sweetness with a touch of green, the perfect flavor profile for an early Spring cocktail! I tried the forsythia honey syrup drizzled onto avocado toast with a touch of sea salt (I highly recommend trying honey + salt together) and swirled into some thick, whole milk yogurt. I had planned to create a basic Bees Knees cocktail with the syrup, but after tasting it in yogurt, I was inspired to add the rich, full fat yogurt to the mix. The result was a super fresh, brunch style cocktail with the delicious contrast of sweet honey floral flavors and the sour tang of citrus and yogurt. Yum!
The Yogi Bear Recipe
- 2 oz gin (I used Hana Gin)
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz forsythia honey syrup
- A spoonful of whole milk plain yogurt
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice, garnish with forsythia flowers, and enjoy!