Flower-infused sugars are very easy to make and they add the beautiful flavors of fresh edible flowers to everything from a cup of tea to cupcakes!
This recipe is specific to lilacs, which were abundant and super fragrant a week ago, but have since vanished for another year.
The trouble with seasonal edible flowers is that they are often around for just a moment – but it’s a moment worth making last juuuust a little longer in the form of floral sugars, syrups, or even liqueurs.
Let’s walk through the two basic processes for making floral-flavored sugars, and then talk recipe variations depending on the type of flowers you’re using.
If you like floral flavors and sugars, you might enjoy my Jasmine Elderflower Daiquiri.
Types of floral sugars
You can make a floral sugar with just about any edible flower, but you want a highly fragrant flower in order to impart a strong enough flavor into your sugar and then into the food or drink that you’ll use the sugar in.
Here is a list of some flowers that could make wonderful flower-infused sugars:
- Herb blossoms, such as basil, mint, thyme, or sage
- Bee balm
- Wisteria (note that only wisteria blossoms are edible – all other parts are toxic)
Use caution if foraging for edible flowers
Note: Always make sure that any edible flowers you use have not been treated with pesticides.
The plants that I grow inside and outside my home are all untreated and have been either planted myself or have been carefully identified. Never eat any plant that you can’t identify with absolute certainty.
The blended floral sugar method
This infused sugar method blends fresh blossoms with sugar for a relatively quick result and.
How to make lilac sugar
To make lilac sugar, I’ve gathered fresh, fully opened, peak bloom lilacs from around my yard.
Carefully pluck the pale purple flowers from their stems, making sure not to pluck any green parts. You want just the petals and fragrant oils.
It seems like tedious work, but if the flowers are fully opened, they pop right off without much effort.
For this recipe, you’ll want to collect about 1/2 cup of flowers, which is roughly the blossoms from 3-4 large clusters.
Once you’ve prepared your lilac blossoms, measure out a cup of white sugar. Combine the sugar and the lilac blossoms and use either a food processor or a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients into a uniform, sandy mixture.
You shouldn’t have any large flower particles remaining by the time the blending is done.
I used a simple mortar and pestle to make my lilac sugar, and it didn’t take very long at all to reach this consistency. But you can also make your sugar with just a few whizzes in a quality food processor.
Now you’re almost done! Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the floral sugar out evenly in the pan. Lilac sugar will look a bit chunky/sandy and be slightly damp – this is normal.
You’ll allow the mix to dry out on the baking sheet over the course of several hours or a day, making sure to check on it periodically to break up any large chunks that have stuck together.
After about 8 hours, my lilac sugar was completely dry and I used a wooden spoon to gently break it up. Store your floral sugars in sealed jars away from heat or direct sunlight.
The slow infusion method
By far the quickest floral sugar method is the combine + blend method described above. However, you can also make delicately flavored flower sugars by simply layering edible flowers with sugar and sealing them in a jar for several weeks. Once the sugar has taken on the flavor of the flowers, you can remove or strain out the blossoms.
This infusion method takes significantly longer, but it also produces a particle-free flavored sugar when it’s done. This method is ideal if you want to have floral flavored sugar without any traces of the flower petals in your finished recipe (such as in drink recipes), or if you’re using dried edible flowers.
If you don’t want any plant particles in your sugar, and you want an even more intense flavor, consider making a floral syrup instead, like my Lilac Simple Syrup.
Flower to sugar ratio
For super potent fresh blossoms like lilacs, 1/2 cup of blossoms to 1 cup of sugar is usually plenty. However, for other, more mildly scented blooms, you’ll want to use more flowers.
A good basic rule of thumb is to use ½ cup of tightly packed blossoms to 1 cup of sugar for highly fragrant edible flowers, and use 1 full cup of tightly packed blossoms to 1 cup of sugar for mildly fragrant petals, such as roses. Not sure how much to use? Go for equal parts petals to sugar – stronger flavor is better than no flavor!
If using roses or carnations, remember to snip the bottoms of each petal, as those white tips are often bitter and unpleasant-tasting. If using the blended sugar method, you can taste the sugar as you’re making it to see if it’s flavorful enough.
If using the slow infusion method, err on the side of caution and add extra if you think the flowers are quite mildly scented.
Using dried flowers vs. fresh
If using dried flowers, you can use the whole flower and the slow infusion method described above. If using fresh, remove the flower petals and discard the rest of the flower.
Dried flowers are sometimes fragrant than fresh (roses, for example), so you may want to increase the flower to sugar ratio. However, some dried flowers are seemingly even more potent than fresh (like lavender!)
You’ll only need about 1 tbsp of dried lavender per 1 cup of sugar. Dried lavender can also be used in the blended sugar method, with the bonus of not needing drying time!
Should I wash my flowers first?
Some recipes call for rinsing/washing the blossoms – I don’t do this. The last thing you want to do is add more moisture to the blooms, and you risk washing away some of those beautifully fragrant plant oils.
Instead, I give my lilac clusters a good shake to remove any dirt or insects, and I inspect the tiny blossoms as I pluck them. If you choose to rinse your flowers first, make sure that they are completely dry before you mix them with your sugar. Otherwise, you can wind up with a moldy batch of sugar!
Storing your flower-infused sugars
You can keep your finished, fully dry floral sugar in a sealed jar in the pantry, but for the best flavor and maximum shelf life, you may want to store it in the freezer. Freezing your sugars will keep the delicate plant oils from deteriorating and they’ll be flavorful for longer.
How to Make Flower-Infused Sugars
- ½ cup fresh lilac blossoms, or other edible flowers (see above for other flower options)
- 1 cup sugar
- Prepare your lilac blossoms by gently plucking the flowers from the stems, being careful to avoid removing any green parts.
- Combine 1/2 cup freshly picked, tightly packed lilac blossoms with 1 cup of sugar and grind until uniform (no large particles remaining) with a food processor or a mortar and pestle.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the flower and sugar mixture over the sheet evenly and allow to dry fully, up to 24 hours.
- Check on the flower-infused sugar periodically, using a spoon to break up any bits that have dried together.
- Once fully dried, store the lilac sugar in a sealed jar away from heat or sunlight. For the best flavor and shelf life, store the floral sugar in the freezer.