If you're outside, or especially driving with the windows down somewhere in Virginia you can smell the honeysuckle. It's such a specific smell and all I want to do is leave the windows down to inhale it all before the humidity creeps in. Despite it's invasive species status (obvious as you see it everywhere but at least it smells better than a kudzu vine), I have such good memories of this delicate plant. As only children raised below the Mason Dixon line can attest, the honeysuckle is actually kind of edible, containing a tiny shot of nectar at the base of the flower. I knew there had to be a way to concentrate that flavor and use this crazy plant that was sprawling all over my family's forest. Yep, there is. And now you'll know too with this simple recipe. Because how can you go wrong with honeysuckle flavored anything?
On our walk this weekend with my Grandma I went totally crazy plucking vines as we went. By the end of the walk I kind of wished the dog had a little donkey saddle to help carry! The house smelled almost suffocatingly wonderful as I stripped the vines of the flowers for a quick rinse. Although, important to note: the berries are poisonous. Also, not all varieties are edible. Clearly as a dietitian and not a botanist, I can't tell you anything of additional help, only that these are vines from Northern VA that I grew up sipping. Since I'm still alive and kicking, all good in this house.
Honey Suckle Simple Syrup
/// Ingredients ///
- 3/4 C sugar
- 3/4 C water
- 1 C honeysuckle flowers
/// Directions /// Add sugar and water to a small pot on the stove. Bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add honeysuckle flowers and remove from heat. Allow to 'steep' for 30 minutes. Strain and bottle. Store in fridge.
Add to coffee, sweet tea, or a vodka seltzer! You can also add a teaspoon into a homemade dressing as a thickener and sweetener. I'll take this gorgeously smooth natural 'flavor' over any fake berry flavor ever.
Have you ever cooked with honeysuckle? Do you have a similar regional plant?
Dietitian Nutritionist and cookbook author sharing flavor-forward recipes and simplified science-driven wellness.