A profusion of images from nature flooded my Instagram feed during the summer holidays. My favourite being those of pretty flowers that dot the woods and the countryside abroad ,in spring. Among the lot the ones that caught my fancy were pictures of the dainty elder flower that is celebrated throughout Switzerland where it pops up during springtime.
My Swiss friend had picked large quantities to make an elder flower syrup which would last her through the year and her posts had me wishing that I was in her kitchen at that moment.
As if that wasn’t temptation enough, a friend from Bangalore who was holidaying in the Swiss Alps returns from a stroll with bunches of elder flowers and proceeds to make a golden syrup within the confines of her cosy air bnb.
Now there wasn’t any possibility of me getting a hold of elder flowers in my neighbourhood of course but what I did love was the whole process of picking delicate, aromatic local flowers and making an infusion with it. The very process exudes an old world charm which is so enticing. As I continued to gaze at the small ,white flowers, it made me think of our very own jasmine. Mallige, mogra, malli poo,chameli etc ,the jasmine is known by different names across the country. It is romanticised both on celluloid and during traditional rituals for it’s aromatic allure and pristine beauty.Elsewhere in Asia it is also in demand for the mild flavour it lends to tea and rice grains but it’s not commonly used as a kitchen ingredient here.Ideally I would have liked to pick my own jasmine flowers but seeing that my plant at home was a little low on offerings,that wasn’t possible.
When I talked to my local flower seller saying I wanted some loose blossoms to make a syrup with she was rather amused. “You don’t want any for your hair?” she asked more than once making it impossible for me to disappoint her. After filling my basket with a handful of open jasmine and settling a length of buds in my wavy locks, I was eager to get home and begin the floral immersions in a sweet,sticky syrup.
The method to make a flavoured sugar syrup is quite straightforward. A citrus element is optional depending on individual preferences. When I gave it some thought I realised that given the delicacy of the jasmine aroma I didn’t really want to diffuse that by adding any other spice or ingredient, not even my favourite lemon.
As we sat around separating the petals from the short green stalk, the heady fragrance was an instant mood elevator. The palms were permeated with the scent that lifted the spirits and added a calming vibe all at once.
While the elder flowers needed to be steeped for a few days in a simple sugar syrup, the jasmine only warranted steeping of a few hours.
The colourless liquid took on a slightly creamy hue and had captured the fragrance beautifully.The olfactory senses have such an important impact in the tasting of any dish. The sweet jasmine syrup did indeed carry the unmistakable flavour of the flowers making this a hugely satisfying foray into the exciting world of floral infusions.There was also a teeny bit of a bitter aftertaste that is commonly felt when tasting most flower petals.
This syrup needs to be stored in the refrigerator and can be used to happy up a simple lemon juice or even some stronger clear brews. My thoughts are leading upto making a lemon sour cream cake and glazing it with this delightful jasmine syrup. I’m guessing one helping of this sweet tangy confection might just not be enough!