Thursday, May 20, 2010

Infusing Herbs and Flowers: Acacia Flower Syrup

Edible flowers can have an allure that extends beyond their perfume. If only I could capture the pleasure somehow to enjoy beyond the short window in which they bloom. Acacia is out in the Lyonnais region at the moment, and we're seeing their delicate cascading blooms in bundles on market tables.

I have been doing a series of workshops on herbs in French cooking, and one of the things we do is a simple herb infused syrup to use in your house kir. A kir is Champagne or white wine with a bit of a flavored syrup or a liqueur like crème de cassis, a typical apéritif served in many French homes. Making your own herb infused syrup can lift a very common French before-dinner drink to something memorable for your guests. What they don't know is that it takes no more than five minutes of hands on work to create your own quick syrups in advance. What they will remember is that you turned an old classic standby into something creative and unusual.

The main idea about infusing herbs is to know what part of the plant contains the oils that give them their flavor, and at what point in the plant's development these oils are most concentrated in the plant. I love to use verbena leaves in this type of syrup infusion, and we do this before it blooms. But yesterday at the market the little baskets of acacia flowers' beautiful aroma drew me in even before I saw them. It's the blooms of this plant that harbor the flavor and aroma. I'd bought a bundle of them for a euro before even thinking about what to do with them.

Just in the way things meld together from my various projects, I knew what I wanted to do with these flowers. I coaxed the beautiful perfume out into a syrup, which I served simply over fromage blanc en faiselle after dinner last night. Magic. When my guests had been fed breakfast and sent to the Musée des Beaux Arts this morning, out came the syrup again for me to enjoy with breakfast. Here is the recipe.

Acacia Flower Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup plain table sugar
6 stems of faux acacia flowers

Bring the sugar and water to a full rolling boil, and let it boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes. While the sugar boils, inspect the flowers to insure they are clean and free of any wind blown debris or critters. Remove the flowers from the stems by simply plucking them off with your fingers. Put the flowers into the hot sugar syrup. Stir lightly to saturate the flowers. Let them infuse in the syrup until it cools to room temperature. Strain and transfer the syrup to a jar or bottle, and chill. It will keep several weeks. Serve over fromage blanc en faiselle or yogurt, or make a kir with a couple of tablespoons of this syrup in a flute of Champagne or white wine. Float a flower or two in the glass, or put it on the dessert. You can eat the flowers.

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Blogger Anh said...

Magic! I was thinking of edible flowers the other day and here you are, presenting a glorious syrup. Not sure where to get the flowers, but I just adore your post.

2:33 PM, May 20, 2010  
Blogger racheld said...

How lovely the syrup must smell and taste!! I'm not familiar with acacia, but it truly sounds as if it would be quite at home in the South---all that rich, lush scent perfuming the air.

I Googled the word, and the first on the list was Acacia Fritters!
It's called a Traditional Italian favorite.

They had them with maple syrup, but perhaps your elixir would be the perfect drizzle.

5:09 PM, May 20, 2010  
Anonymous Silvia said...

Last week I've infused some acacia flowers and made tea. It was great even cold.

11:47 PM, May 20, 2010  
Blogger Denise | Chez Danisse said...

A wonderful idea and your photograph is just beautiful. Whenever I hear someone speak of acacias it reminds me of the walking stick that takes root in Enchanted April.

3:44 AM, May 21, 2010  
Anonymous Ann Flower said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe of Acacia Flower Syrup. Will give it a try and see if it works.

8:25 AM, May 21, 2010  
Blogger anne said...

where did you get those beautiful bowls from? you composed a very good setting!

1:23 PM, May 22, 2010  
Blogger SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Enchanting idea ! And I love the sound of the Verbena infusion .

12:10 AM, May 23, 2010  
Blogger stefania.confidential said...

molto chic ! :)

11:53 AM, May 27, 2010  
Anonymous Cristina said...

When I was a little girl, I loved sitting by some tall acacia trees close to my grandmother's house. You made me think of that magical times gain, and of the delicious smell of acacia...the syrup must smell heavenly!

11:27 PM, May 27, 2010  
Blogger Jann said...

I would love to attend one of your workshops! this little delight looks delicious!

1:48 PM, July 19, 2010  
Anonymous shalymere said...

Ive heard this one before and never got the chance to try it cause i don't know how to prepare it but at least now i know.

4:31 PM, March 23, 2011  

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