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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Floral Syrups - things you should know

Violet Syrup

Making floral syrups and jellies is increasing in popularity.

The two most viewed posts on my blog right now are my Violet Syrup and Dandelion Syrup recipes, they are being viewed daily by more people than I can count, as well as making their way around Pinterest (check this out).

BTW...Thanks to everyone who pins my recipes, I'm very appreciative, and surprised as well.

:]



I don't know when or how it got started for people to can these syrups, there is no recommendation from the USDA, but I myself felt there could be nothing wrong with doing so.

High sugar content, added acidity, where could I go wrong?

I canned these as I usually do, I'm very careful that everything is thoroughly disinfected and my jars are sterilzed properly.

Dandelion Syrup


We used the many jars of both syrups that I made well into winter with no problems.

But about 2 months ago I noticed something funky going on in the jars.

The violet syrup had not only faded from it's vibrant magenta to a pinkish brown, but there was some weird stuff floating within…

click for larger view
I started investigating my remaining few jars and discovered these strange 'colonies' within 2 of my 3 my violet jellys as well.

I looked further and checked all my dandelion syrup jars and discovered something even worse…


A strange floating colony at the top of the jars.

Not all of the jars were from the same batch but multiple batches made over several weeks.

Therefore, I could probably rule out a contamination, surely it would not have occurred over several batches, especially since NONE of my other preserves had this issue.

There was no off-gassing, no expansion, fizzing, bubbles or release of gas or odor upon opening the jars. Signs you would see with a bacterial contamination, but I had none, very strange.

Marisa (Food In Jars) and I, after much brainstorming came to the agreement that FLORAL SYRUPS SHOULD NOT BE CANNED.

Our best guess was that there was some sort of residual fungus that was on the flowers that survived the boiling process of both making the syrup and processing the jars and after many, many months was able to flourish, despite what would seem improbable conditions.

All flowers were picked in my yard. I do live in the woods, so maybe the fungus theory is a strong possibility.

Also curious was that the growths in the violet syrup were completely different from the growths in the dandelion syrup. Again, maybe different fungus that survived on the different flowers?

Will I make these syrups again?  Absolutely.

BUT, I will definitely NOT can them. I will store them in the refrigerator in sterilized jars and use them within a somewhat timely manner.

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So, if you are going to make floral syrups here's some things you should definitely know:


  • Always choose flowers away from roadsides, areas that are sprayed, lawns that are treated, etc.  Select flowers free from any chemicals and road run-off.
  • Rinse them gently first, or gently agitate them in some water, to clean them off and remove any stray insects.
  • Do not can them, despite what you might read on other blogs.  If you choose to do so, please inspect your jars regularly by holding them up to a bright light or window. If they are not clear or show any signs of funkiness or questionable areas, please do not eat them and dispose of them immediately.

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11 comments:

Emy said...

Hi! Great idea with these syrups. I have a suggestion though- I think you could probably still can them, if you use 1/2 pint or smaller cans. I've heard that you have to use the smaller types of jars to be able to safely home can sweet things, be they jams, jellies, marmalades or syrups. I've canned many types of high sugar, high acidity fruit and flower concoctions in smaller jars without this problem. Hope it's a help! Thanks for sharing your recipes!

The 3 Foragers said...

When we make floral syrups, we add some powdered ascorbic acid (that is just a fancy way of saying vitamin c) to the hot syrup. We don't can it, but keep it at room temperature in bottles, in a dark place. My husband is from Hungary, and this is the method that is used by the average person to make syrups to mix with seltzer for drinking. Some of m syrups are over a year old with no funky stuff growing. Here is one of our recipes using black locust flowers:
http://the3foragers.blogspot.com/2011/06/black-locust-recipe-black-locust-flower_07.html

Karen

cmv... said...

Hi Emy, I'd say the size of jar is not the problem. I would consider where you pick the flowers and what possible environmental influences there might be. It's your own judgement whether to can them, there are no USDA guidelines for floral syrups. I live in the woods, surrounded by mushrooms and fungus and rotting trees, which I think was a strong contributing factor.

cmv... said...

Hi 3 foragers, I follow your blog and enjoy it so much. Interesting addition with the ascorbic acid. I used lemon juice so I did add acidity. Curious. I blame it on living in the woods. So you don't process the jars at all? Just screw on the lid? I think the USDA would have a heart attack. hahaha

Jess Schleicher said...

I'm just wondering... do you think you could freeze them instead?

cmv... said...

Hi Jess

I don't see anything wrong with freezing the syrup. I've never done it so you'd have to try. It might crystallize some and will most likely not freeze solid. But I would thinking heating it would dissolve any crystals. Best I can say is give it a try. It's not something that lasts too long around here. We drink a lot of seltzers.

Jo said...

I think we are all trying to benefit from the spring/summer abundance of dandelions and flowers. So... how about freezing them and then making "fresh" syrup in the winter? I think this is what I will do :) No worries then! OH, what about dehydrating the flowers for winter use? HUMMMM

cmv... said...

Hi Jo, I know many people who steep the liquid then freeze it. Not sure about freezing or dehydrating the flowers, but you never know until you try! Go for it, you might be on to something!

Heather said...

I'm curious if you pressure canned or water bath canned. Mostly wondering if maybe the other method (whichever one you didn't use) would be a better choice.

cmv... said...

Hi heather I water bath canned them. I'm not sure it would make a difference. It seems more like it was a fungus than a spoilage in which I'm not sure what it would take to essentially 'kill' it. I have noted before that I live in the woods and because of that we have a lot of fungal spores floating around from all the decaying things. It could be a situational thing based on my location. I've had some reader comments that they successfully water bath can it without problems. There are no guidelines for canning floral syrups so it is at your own discretion. You can try it and see what happens. Just thoroughly inspect your jars by holding them up to the light as there is no off-gassing but rather changes to the color and obvious growths within the syrup. Hope that helps!

Crooked Shade Farm said...

I've made dandelion blossom syrup and just pack it hot into 1/2 pint or pint jars just as I would jelly, Then I turn the hot jars over for 10 minutes or so to make sure everything inside is sterilized, and turn them back over again and let them cool. I've never had the least problem with colonies of anything, and I've kept the syrup for over a year. I store them in a cool, dark basement, just as I would jellies.

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