Looking for a beautiful, delicious edible weed to use straight from your yard this Spring? Learn how to harvest and prepare grape hyacinth simple syrup, and what you can use your syrup for.
This post was 100% inspired by Lauren from Hillsborough-Homesteading.com‘s Grape Hyacinth Lemonade Recipe. I made a couple of changes to the way I process the simple syrup, and learned a lot about grape hyacinth blossoms in the process, which I wanted to share. But all credit for the original idea goes to Hillsborough-Homesteading.com. Thanks, Lauren!
Have you seen these beautiful purple flowers bloom in your yard? They sort of look like hyacinths, but they shape of the buds is completely different. Perhaps you’re wondering why they seem to multiply year after year. Chances are, you’ve come across wild grape hyacinth!
I first saw grape hyacinth blossoms pop up in my neighborhood 3 years ago, when we lived down the road from our current house. Our area is covered in wildflowers every Spring, and I absolutely adore it, as short-lived as they seem to be.
Last year I discovered that they’re edible, and I was determined to try a recipe out. I was super pregnant, and never got around to harvesting them or using them, but I did come across an interesting grape hyacinth lemonade recipe by Lauren from Hillsborough-Homesteading.com.
This year I searched for more recipes using grape hyacinth buds and couldn’t find much of anything at all, surprisingly! I decided to recreate Lauren’s lemonade recipe, and in doing so I found my own twist. I’ll be sharing that today, along with some other info I’ve learned on grape hyacinth flowers.
First, let’s tackle a few commonly asked questions.
Are grape hyacinths poisonous?
No, grape hyacinths are not poisonous. If you’ve ever looked into whether or not you can eat these pretty little flowers, you may have been confused, because hyacinths ARE toxic to people and pets. However, grape hyacinths are NOT hyacinths at all, they’re actually part of the Lily family!
The scientific name for grape hyacinth has changed a bit over time, but its most common scientific name is Muscari Armeniacum. They have nearly four dozen different names!
The grape hyacinth’s common name came about for obvious reasons. They stalk and blossom looks similar to that of a hyacinth flower, and the small bell-shaped purple buds resemble a bunch of grapes.
Can you eat grape hyacinth?
Yes, you can eat grape hyacinth. The blossoms and buds are the most commonly harvested part of this wildflower, but the entire plant is edible. However, they do contain saponins, which is simply a defense mechanism produced by the plant to deter pests from eating them. The saponins give the flower a bitter flavor, but you can cook that out if you don’t like it.
Do grape hyacinths multiply?
Yes, grape hyacinths are considered invasive, and many people search for ways to get rid of them, as they move into their garden beds and take over precious crop space. I’ve found a few in my garden beds as well, but it hasn’t gotten out of hand yet.
That being said, a weed is only a weed if you don’t want it to grow somewhere. Some people purposefully buy grape hyacinth bulbs and plant them along their walkways and in their yard to add a bright pop of color. They can take over an area fairly quickly, though, and many people find themselves with more grape hyacinth flowers than they can keep up with in just a few short years.
Is grape hyacinth poisonous to dogs?
No, grape hyacinth is not poisonous to dogs. It is poisonous, however, to cold-blooded animals.
Do grape hyacinths smell?
Grape hyacinths have a slightly sweet, grape-y scent to them. Personally I haven’t found them to be incredibly fragrant, but many people do!
How tall do grape hyacinths grow?
Grape hyacinths can grow from 4 to 8 inches tall!
What do I do with grape hyacinths after flowering?
Well, that’s totally up to you! You can leave them be, or you can pick the blossoms, bulbs, or even the leaves to cook with!
How long do grape hyacinths last?
Usually 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather. I’ve found that they come back a few times throughout the year, provided the weather is mild. This Spring we had a ton of rain that affected the flowers. I feel they would have lasted at least another week or so if they didn’t get rained out.
I’ve also seen them disappear when the heat kicks in, coming back for a couple of weeks in the early Fall!
Identifying and Foraging Grape Hyacinth
I have an entire post dedicated to identifying, foraging, and harvesting grape hyacinth that I recommend you check out. It’s easy to identify, and my article will give you the confidence you need to move forward with making your own grape hyacinth simple syrup.
Harvesting Grape Hyacinth
To harvest your grape hyacinth for this recipe, you’ll only want to use the buds. It’s actually pretty fun to harvest! They pop off like little beads. Just like Lauren from Hillsborough Homesteading, I involved my son in the harvesting process and he had a blast. I definitely recommend getting kids in on this project.
Remember to leave some behind for the bees, since they love these sweet little blossoms! That wasn’t a problem for us, as they’re EVERYWHERE.
How to Make Grape Hyacinth Simple Syrup
Step 1: Once you’ve identified that you’ve found grape hyacinth on your property (and you don’t use any weed killer or pesticides on your lawn), harvest the buds.
Step 2: Add the grape hyacinth buds to a mason jar or container.
It’s okay if a little bit of the leaves and plant matter are in the jar.
Step 3: Add boiling water over the grape hyacinth buds.
Step 4: Allow the buds to infuse for at least an hour. I waited about 3 hours.
*Here’s where I discovered I preferred doing something different than the original recipe.
Following Lauren’s recipe, I tried straining the buds at this point, and it came out delicious! However, the end product still had a bit of a bitter taste that my son wasn’t a fan of.
After doing a bit of research, I learned about the saponins found in grape hyacinth. They’re not toxic to humans at normal levels, and can be found in all kinds of things we eat, like quinoa. Vegetarians are typically exposed to more saponins than meat-eaters, and it’s something most of us are used to.
The only thing to consider here, is that saponins are what give grape hyacinth it’s bitter flavor component. If you’d like to tone down the bitterness, it’s recommended that you cook them!
So, my main adjustment in this recipe, is to instead create your simple syrup WITH the flower buds still included, straining afterwards!
Step 5: Create your simple syrup by pouring the infused water WITH the buds into a skillet. Add equal parts sugar or honey and stir while simmering on medium heat for a few minutes.
You may want to measure out how much infused water you have before pouring it into the pan.
The longer you allow the syrup to cook, the more concentrated and thick it will be. It’s totally up to you how long you’d like to process this. I just did it for a few minutes.
Step 6: Strain the simple syrup through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve to remove all buds and plant matter.
And there you have it! Your grape hyacinth simple syrup is complete!
How to Make Grape Hyacinth Lemonade
Now you can do whatever you want with your grape hyacinth simple syrup! You can add it tea, alcoholic mixed drinks, the sky is the limit! I’d be willing to bet it’s even pretty delicious added during the second fermentation for kombucha!
I decided to follow Lauren’s lemonade recipe, and was not disappointed! I added more lemon than she did, but it was more or less the same recipe.
- 1/2 cup grape hyacinth simple syrup
- 2 cups water
- 3 tblsp lemon juice
Combine ingredients, add some ice, and enjoy! It’s sweet, earthy, and refreshing!
Other Things to do with Grape Hyacinth
- Pickle the buds and blossoms
- Add them to a garden salad
- Use the buds as seasoning
I want to try cooking them, then dehydrating and grinding them up for a pretty purple seasoning.
- Use as a natural dye
I haven’t tried this yet, but surely they make a wonderful natural dye. My hands were purple for about 2 days after harvesting them!
Have you made anything with edible grape hyacinth flowers? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear.
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