My first encounter with a peony was in Brooklyn at the Botanical Gardens (@bklynbotanic) when I was in my early twenties. The peonies were a gift from a small Japanese village in remembrance of September 11. Sadly, their first shipment was delayed because of a port strike, and as a result, the peonies died. A second shipment was sent, which, thankfully arrived in time for spring blooms. In Eastern culture, peonies are revered in the world of flowers and symbolize a regal status. To me, they usher in summer with their perfume and cheery colors. Experienced as drink, you can expect an Aperol profile without the bitter finish. Add to cocktails or make beautiful blush-colored sodas with seltzer water and syrup to taste.
4 – 5 large peony blooms (pesticide-free)
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Bowl for seeping petals
Bowl for reserved petal liquid
Large sieve or colander
- Begin by removing the petals from the peonies being careful to avoid the pollen. Place in bowl.
- Boil the water and pour over petals. Let steep for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- After steeping, strain liquid from petals into a second bowl. Measure the amount of liquid and take note. This is how much sugar you will need to create the simple syrup.
- Pour the liquid into a medium saucepan and add an equal amount of sugar. (e.g. 3 cups liquid will require about 3 cups of sugar).
- Bring to boil, then simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Once cool, add lemon juice and stir. Watch the syrup change from yellow to blush.
- The syrup can be refrigerated in a glass jar for up to a month.
Makes about 4 cups.