Yesterday, I gathered four cups of honeysuckle blossoms, which, when packed down in a measuring cup, is a lot more than you would think. Luckily, near our house is a school with a fence just covered in vines. Now, left to its own devices, as this was, honeysuckle can sprawl to untold lengths and provide hundreds of little, fluttery blossoms. This particular specimen spilled down both sides of an eighty foot long, eight foot tall fence and reached the ground. It’s remarkable, actually, how a large honeysuckle vine can become its own miniature ecosystem. This one was full of chickadees, sparrows, hummingbird hawk moths and garden spiders.
Where I live, the most common variety of honeysuckle is called Japanese, or white honeysuckle. It has bright white blossoms that turn buttery yellow as they age. Its nectar is edible and, frankly, delicious, as anyone who’s ever plucked the end off of one to suck the clear fluid out knows. The berries are poisonous on most varieties, and I have no idea on which variety they are not, so I would advise against attempting it.
In older days, the plant was known as woodbine for its tendency to wrap around trees and cause constriction and bulging in the trunks as they grew. It makes a beautiful scent as well, if done correctly. Both Caswell-Massey and Crabtree & Evelyn carry honeysuckle scents, but neither of them smell much like the real thing to me, coming off very artificial instead. Mary Kay had the best honeysuckle perfume I’ve ever smelled, but it was sadly discontinued.
I tried following the NPR website’s version of honeysuckle sorbet, but it was written too vaguely, and by the time I realized what it was directing me to do, I had already thrown out a necessary ingredient! Today, I am instead making the version from Biscuits and Such.
Here I’d like to note that in the future, there will be pictures with the posts! It just so happens that today, my camera was on holiday at a friend’s house. 🙂
Last night, I took my 4 cups of blossoms and soaked them in 5 1/2 cups of cool water. This morning, I strained the water through a mesh colander and discarded the blossoms. A simple syrup, some freezing, and some blending later, I had sorbet! I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I instead froze the sorbet in a bowl and fluffed it with a fork every hour or so, then when it was fully frozen I dropped it in the blender until it was smooth and silky. I also did not add cinnamon to the sorbet itself, just cracked some on top using a grinder. I have to say, the cinnamon makes all the difference, really elevating the flavor and cutting the otherwise syrupy sweetness.
As of this writing, I find it delicious, Bridgette is on her second helping, and James says it tastes like springtime! We’ll have to see what Mom thinks when she gets home. If you have a lot of honeysuckle, or have fond memories of stealing nectar from the backs of the blossoms, I can’t reccommend this strongly enough. If you’re a fan of floral flavors as well, particularly orange blossom, I also reccommend it. But hurry! Honeysuckle only blooms with abandon for a few weeks each year…