Projects for while the spring flowers are still here

Ideas for ways to celebrate spring by enjoying edible and medicinal spring flowers.

5/3/20245 min read

One thing about me is that I love to create an elaborate menu. Executing an over the top meal feels like a school project, and I’m a straight A student (I have been out of school for years). Any holiday, birthday, or a dinner in the garden: I’m brainstorming something. I always think that my menu will be simple and manageable, but it never is. It’s always exhausting and time consuming and I always say that next time we should just order Chinese food. I will never stop doing this. 

If I ever invite you over, I’ll probably offer you something that perhaps you’ve never tried before. Dinner at my house will usually include something fermented, foraged, or both. Some people, for reasons beyond my comprehension, seem to be reluctant to try new flavors or foods they didn’t know were edible. I want people to try these flavors, so making them exciting and beautiful will help me do that. 

Here are some things I’ve made, plan to make, and would like to make:

Cherry blossom sugar 

All the pink cherry blossom trees blooming right now are bearing edible flowers! They aren’t particularly fragrant or flavorful, so my main motivation for this is to have pink sugar. Here’s how: pick some blossoms, dust off any dirt, and layer a lot of them in a vessel with sugar. Over the course of about a week, the blossoms will dry in there. At this point, I’ll blitz the whole thing in the blender and end up with (hopefully) pink sugar. I haven’t actually done this before, so I’m imagining a beautiful pastel pink sugar, but we’ll see. This will add a nice little flair to the rim of cocktails, in shortbread, and dusted onto sugar cookies.

Lilac sugar 

Same process as above. Google will tell you that the scent of lilacs is notoriously difficult to capture, but it’s not true. It’s difficult to extract the scent of lilac via essential oil distillation, but regular old granulated white sugar does an excellent job. You can blitz this, or just strain out the dry lilacs with a fine mesh sieve when it's done infusing - the scent will remain in the sugar. This will add a really nice floral element to whatever you use it for, and preserve the scent of lilacs for months to come. 

Lilac mead

I’ve been really excited for this, I purchased the wine yeast months ago. I’m using this recipe. It’s my first time making mead, and I don’t want to pick my lilac bush clean, so I’m only making a gallon. This should be ready in a few months, and will pair nicely with a special occasion meal this summer.


I recently got back into brewing kombucha after a few years off. I was trying hard to love it, but I just didn’t. However, I’ve recently tried some really delicious kombucha, which has inspired me to start making my own again. In an effort to like it more, I didn’t let it ferment as long as I used to (read: procrastinate bottling it until it tastes like vinegar). I bottled it while it still had a mild sweetness left to it. I brewed a gallon, and bottled up five separate jars, infused with lilacs, rhubarb, and last year's dried lavender, hibiscus, and rose.

Wild fermented soda: Flavored with spruce tips.

I recently purchased a wild fermented soda at my local dandelion festival for the first time, and I cannot believe it took me this long to try it. I’m not normally a soda drinker, but it was probably the most delicious beverage I’ve ever had, so I decided I have to make my own. I can’t replicate it, because it was an elderflower soda and I don’t have elderflowers yet (although I did purchase a potted american elderberry bush at the same festival, so hopefully next year I will have elderflowers and elderberries). So, I’m playing with another flavor I’ve been wanting to experiment with: spruce tips from a white spruce tree (every type of spruce is edible). I also plan to make versions with cherry blossom & rhubarb, and lemon lilac.

Here’s how I’m attempting to make a wild soda. Be forewarned though: this isn’t a recipe, it’s an explanation of how the process works. Making anything fermented requires a kitchen scale, a little math, and for you to be comfortable using your judgment. This is my first wild soda, so I don’t know yet how successful this method will be. However, I do have a solid understanding of fermentation, so I am hopeful. 

1. If using a one liter vessel, pick 1-2 good size handfuls of your flavors. Scale up if you’re making a gallon. The exact amount depends on how strong your botanicals are, and how strong you want your soda to be. Use your judgment on flavors and how much would be good. You have to either pick it from your garden or forage it, and don’t wash it - just brush off debris and bugs. It has to be done this way because it has wild yeast on it that we need in order to start the fermentation. Washing it will wash away wild yeast, and then it won’t work. 

2. Place your empty vessel on the scale and zero it out. Add your botanicals of choice, and then cover it most of the way with water, leaving a few inches of headroom. If you’re on municipal water supply, you may want to use bottled spring water for this recipe to make sure there isn’t chlorine in the water, which can inhibit fermentation. 

3. 7% - 8% of the solution needs to be sugar. To do this, take the combined weight in grams of the botanicals + water, and multiply that by .07. The number you get is the number of grams of sugar you need to add. 

4. Cap it, shake it well until all the sugar is dissolved, and let it sit. Check on it and burp it every two days or do, and once it’s well carbonated, you can drink it. If you don’t want the botanicals to keep infusing, you could strain them out, pour the liquid back in, and allow it to keep carbonating until it's how you like it. 

This works because the fresh botanicals have wild yeast on them that feed on the sugar, producing carbonation as a byproduct. All of these flavors would be excellent syrups too, to be mixed with seltzer and booze and citrus. 

Mugwort crackers 

Mugwort is horribly invasive, and it's young and pliable right now with a mild, but distinct, scent (not floral, more like a musky earthy forestry type smell). I’ll be pressing these into crackers and hoping for good results. 

Spruce tip anything

I wish I had enough spruce tips to dry a lot of tea, and make some into ice cream. I only have access to one young spruce tree, and it isn’t mine. I don’t know of any spruce growing wild in my local forests. If you have access to an abundance of young spruce tips, please try them!