Spring in Arkansas is intoxicating! The smell of life blooming all around you, while colors flash brightly everywhere you turn… it’s a sight to see. If you grew up in the south, you know what honeysuckle is, and if you were a kid before iPads and gaming and helicopter parenting brought everyone inside, you know what to DO with honeysuckle. You gently pinched the bottom of the blossom, being careful not to break the stigma, and you slowly pulled the stigma out from the bottom until you saw that sweet little bubble of nectar collect, and then you got your sweet reward. I don’t recall when summers went from lasting forever to only 6 weeks, but a few of my strongest childhood memories with my four siblings include lazily picking and sucking on honeysuckle blooms for what seemed like hours, then stealing armfuls of our neighbors’ blackberries off of their bushes, jumping in their pool to wash them off and eating them until our fingers were stained purple. With the sun in our face, chlorine in our eyes, and blackberries in our bellies, we hadn’t a care in the world. Those were the good ol’ days! These days I have the perspective that all Parents have: time speeds to warp speed, and will never slow down again. I do have hope though- I get to relive those endless summers in a way by introducing my kids to those same simple pleasures that I had, and it fills me with respect for the South and the gift of experiencing four clear seasons.
I think honeysuckle is one of my very favorites smells. I always imagined how wonderful it would be to bottle all of that sweet nectar. Last year, just after the blooms were gone, I came across Honey & Jam’s blog post about honeysuckle syrup, and I couldn’t get that off of my mind! The first wafts of the blossoms’ scent reached my nose this year, and I knew what had to be done. This syrup will be an absolute staple of spring for my family from here on out. I modified it slightly by adding a touch of honey to accentuate that floral sweetness, and it does wonders for it.
With the syrup, you can sweeten lemonade, iced teas, use it in cocktails, drizzle it straight over pancakes… or use it to sweeten jams, like I did today. This may be my favorite use of the syrup so far, and believe me, I’ve been playing around with it quite a bit.
Blueberry picking has been on our warm weather itinerary since Violet was a baby. I enjoy picking berries more than most things in the world. It’s cliche, but they really are nature’s candy! You have no idea what they’re supposed to taste like until you sneak one off the bush/vine/tree and try it that way. There’s just no better taste in the world! The fresh blueberry tartness in this jam with the floral sweetness of the honeysuckle makes your eyes involuntarily close while eating. It’s that good. This “jam” isn’t necessarily the kind of jam you’d use for your daily PB&J (though you can if you want- I’m not the boss). This is a special dessert jam that is positively perfect to use as a filling for sweet rolls or crepes, or as a topping for scones, biscuits, bread pudding or Belgian waffles. I’ve even thought about making a sweet grilled cheese sandwich with brie and this jam. Really, you can’t go wrong. It’s amazing.
The link to view and print the recipe for the honeysuckle syrup and the blueberry honeysuckle jam is under the photos. The recipe for the sweet rolls in the photos is from The Pioneer Woman (I halved her recipe, omitted her filling and used the blueberry jam and a lemon glaze instead of the cinnamon roll appropriate glaze she used).
Hurry up and forage those sweet blooms before they’re gone!