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Magnolia Syrup – A Gingery Floral Sweet Treat

Bottle of Magnolia Syrup with magnolia blossoms.

Drinks, Spring | 31st March 2020 | By

Did you know you can eat magnolia petals? Magnolia syrup is an interesting floral syrup with strong ginger tones. It’s a great way to capture the essence of these fleeting spring flowers.

As we’re in prime magnolia season right now, I thought I’d give you a slightly different spring recipe to see March out. I do like cooking with foraged ingredients, whether that be out in the woods and fields or in the garden. It’s surprising how many garden flowers are edible. Magnolias, which are amongst the oldest flowering plants, are one of them. If you pick blossoms, always ask permission first if the tree isn’t yours.

Can you Eat Magnolia Flowers?

Well, you’ve probably gathered by now that indeed you can eat magnolia blossoms. Or at least the petals. The base of the flower is bitter and best removed before you down it. In fact magnolia flowers have been eaten in China for millennia. They’re said to have medicinal properties, but I’m no expert, so I won’t say any more about that.

Recently, as in yesterday, I spotted a post on how to pickle magnolia blossoms at Kavey Eats. I can’t tell you how excited I am by this idea. As soon as I saw it I dashed straight to CT saying “I didn’t know magnolia blossoms were edible”. He shrugged nonchalantly and said, “yeah, of course”. Honestly, what else hasn’t he told me in all these years?

Magnolia Blossoms.

We have a Magnolia x loebneri growing in the garden and it’s beautiful. Every year it flowers prolifically. Sadly, this year has been so windy, the blossoms are blowing off nearly as fast as they’re forming. So it seemed like a good time to harvest some of them and try out a recipe or two. Even though the petals on this one aren’t particularly fleshy.

One of the best edible species is meant to be Magnolia x soulangeana. So if you have one of those, it’s a good one with which to start your edible magnolia journey. Magnolia grandiflora is another and it just so happens we have one of those in the garden too. So I’m looking forward to trying a flower when one comes into bloom. They bloom infrequently and sparsely in my experience.

As well as the magnolia syrup, we also pickled some of the petals. Turns out they’re really good and we shall be making them again. They look and taste a little like Japanese pickled ginger. They’d be great with sushi although we found they make a lovely accompaniment to bread and cheese.

What do Magnolia Blossoms Taste Like?

The flavour of magnolia petals is really interesting. They don’t smell of ginger, but ginger is the first flavour to hit your tastebuds. In fact our magnolia flowers don’t really smell of anything, which is why the taste is so surprising when you eat one.

Following the ginger comes a slight floral test. And in some cases there’s a hint of bitterness.

In addition to pickles and syrup, you can add fresh magnolia petals to salads, sandwiches or stir fries.

Over the years, I’ve made rose, lilac, elderflower and now magnolia syrup. Out of all of them lilac was my least favourite and I wouldn’t bother ever making that again. But although rose will forever remain my favourite and is the most useful, I’m pretty sure I shall make some magnolia again next year.

Magnolia Syrup

I based my magnolia syrup recipe on the rose syrup recipe I make every year. I use it in any number of ways. Head over to the post to find out what some of these are. It’s incredibly easy to make and if you keep it in the fridge, it will last ages.

If you want to try making magnolia syrup, I suggest you make just a small amount, in case you don’t like it. The recipe below produces 250ml of sweet syrup. You can always make a larger quantity once you’ve established you like it.

The first thing you need to do is remove the petals from the central ovaries with their attached stamens. This part is bitter and will spoil the syrup. I picked 25g of blossoms which gave me 20g of petals. Then it’s just a simple process of dissolving sugar in water and simmering the petals in it for twenty minutes or so. In fact, it’s exactly the same method as for my rose syrup.

I use golden caster sugar for this recipe. But if you’d prefer a lighter colour use white sugar instead. Granulated or caster are both fine.

Bottle of Magnolia Syrup with a glass of cordial and water.

You can use the magnolia syrup as a cordial. Just dilute it in cold, hot or fizzy water to taste. You can also use it in cakes, whip it up with some cream or simply pour over ice-cream or pancakes. In fact, it makes quite a nice gingery substitute.

It keeps well in the fridge for up to a year and it freezes well too. To freeze, either pour into a plastic drink bottle or for smaller quantities use an ice cube tray. As soon as the syrup is frozen, remove from the tray and place the cubes in a plastic bag.

Other Floral Recipes You Might Like

For plenty more ideas head over to my floral recipes board on Pinterest

Magnolia Syrup. PIN IT.

Bottle of magnolia syrup with blossoms.

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this magnolia syrup, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Indeed if you’ve ever made anything with magnolia flowers I’d be interested. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Magnolia Syrup – The Recipe

Bottle of Magnolia Syrup with magnolia blossoms.
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5 from 3 votes

Magnolia Syrup

An interesting floral syrup with strong ginger tones. A great way to capture the essence of these fleeting spring flowers.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cordial, flowers, magnolia, spring, syrup
Servings: 1 250 ml bottle
Author: Choclette

Ingredients

  • 25 g magnolia flowers - unsprayed petals alone weigh 20g
  • 150 g golden granulated or golden caster sugar
  • 150 ml water

Instructions

  • Strip the petals from the ovaries at the base.
  • Place sugar and water in a pan and place over a low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Add the magnolia petals and leave uncovered to barely simmer for twenty minutes.
  • Strain the syrup through a sieve into a sterilised bottle. Seal and leave to cool.

Notes

This recipe can be scaled up according to how many magnolia petals you have and how much syrup you want to make. But try this small amount first, just in case you don't like it.
Can keep in the fridge for up to a year.
Freezes well.
In the summer you can make rose syrup in a similar way.

Sharing

I’m sharing this magnolia syrup with Recipes Made Easy for #CookBlogShare.

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18 Comments

  1. Leslie

    31st March 2020 at 6:10 pm

    You literally just blew my mind with this post. I had NO idea magnolia flowers were edible, let alone that you can make a syrup with them! So cool!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st April 2020 at 3:11 pm

      Yes, it’s an exciting world Leslie. I love making new discoveries like this.

      Reply
  2. Mary

    31st March 2020 at 9:02 pm

    Who would have thought? I watch my Magnolia tree come into blossom, they fade next day and they’re gone. Now I can do something with those beautiful creamy white blooms. They are big wide blooms but not many at one time. While mine are white and yours looked blushing pink, they are all the same for syrup? I hope.
    Flowering is all over this year but I shall keep this in mind for next season. How wonderful to be able to make something edible with these beautiful blooms.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st April 2020 at 3:11 pm

      It sounds like yours might be a grandiflora Mary. They are meant to be one of the best for eating apparently. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m hoping too as we have one in the garden. It just doesn’t flower very often.

      Reply
  3. Kacey Perez

    1st April 2020 at 4:33 am

    I had no idea that you could even use magnolia blossoms in food! I would love to try this recipe but I might have to do a bit of looking for the blossoms we don’t typically have magnolias trees around where we live. This sounds so good though!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st April 2020 at 3:09 pm

      Ah well, if you don’t have magnolias growing where you are, that could be a problem. But there might be other flowers around you could use instead.

      Reply
  4. Jenny Habbal-Goodsir

    1st April 2020 at 7:35 am

    This is so interesting! There are so many edible plants around us that we have forgotten about, or if they are “newly arrived” in the country, never knew about! It’s one of the most satisfying aspects of cooking for me, when you can have some simple thing that grows by itself as the main ingredient in a recipe! Thanks, Choclette!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st April 2020 at 3:08 pm

      Yes, it really is interesting and there’s so much still to discover I’m sure. I guess you’re probably right, it’s because we haven’t evolved with magnolias in the same way as we have with our native plants that we’ve not got into the habit of using them.

      Reply
  5. Jen

    1st April 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I had no idea magnolias were edible. What a great idea!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st April 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Yes, I’m still feeling excited by the concept of eating magnolias.

      Reply
  6. Monika Dabrowski

    2nd April 2020 at 9:18 am

    Magnolia smells so beautiful and if magnolia syrup tastes as good I am sure it’s delicious. Shared

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd April 2020 at 9:58 am

      Thank you Monika. Weirdly our magnolia doesn’t smell at all, which is why I was so surprised by the flavour.

      Reply
  7. Rosemary

    3rd April 2020 at 10:45 am

    I make lots of edible flower recipes (there is something wonderful about eating flowers…) but have never made anything with magnolia. I had no idea that it was edible or that it tasted of ginger. My neighbours have a huge magnolia in their garden which is just coming into bloom so I will be requesting a few blossoms.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      3rd April 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Yes it’s quite astonishing. Like you I’m an edible flower fan, but had no idea about magnolias. And I certainly didn’t expect them to taste of ginger. They’re all meant to be a bit different, but as I understand it, the ginger flavour is always there. Let me know how you get on.

      Reply
  8. Alida@mylittleitaliankitchen

    11th April 2020 at 9:13 pm

    I had no idea you could do this, how interesting and it must be a really perfumed syrup. Lovely.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      12th April 2020 at 7:52 am

      It’s not as perfumed as you might think. Floral notes are there for sure, but the predominant flavour is ginger. It’s not at all what you’d expect.

      Reply
  9. krista

    15th May 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Hi! I have a magnolia liliiflora and am interested in making syrup as a gift for neighbors and friends. Would I be able to add a petal to the bottle and if so how long would they last.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      15th May 2020 at 7:31 pm

      Hi Krista. You can certainly add a petal to the syrup for effect, but I suspect it wouldn’t last nearly as long. I haven’t tried it, but I’d be cautious.

      Reply

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