Just the thought of Iconic Southern Scents and my mind drifts to sweet honeysuckle, exotic jasmine, the faint lemony magnolia and deeply fragrant gardenias. To me, Gardenias are the glamor girls of southern flowers, they don’t wear out their welcome and we remember them long after they’re gone. There may be no greater mood lifter than floating a few blooms of camellias, a big magnolia or several gardenias on water in a cut glass bowl or better yet- floating on top of the warm water of a bath, which is unbelievably soothing.
Honestly, just those thoughts can fling on me a full blown case of a Magnolia Fever. And, the cure might be as simple as a Gardenia Elixir. Southern ladies, like many other cultures tended toward using what they had to make amazing extracts for use in all manner of ways, especially when more expensive extracts weren’t readily available, much like Rose Or Orange Blossom Water. Gardenia Extract is similar to those and must be made when gardenias are in bloom. Recently my friend, Rebecca from the great state of Louisiana, posted two ways to use gardenia blooms- one is an infusion of the blooms into heavy cream for her No churn Ice Cream . Rebecca’s blog is called Why I Baked a Cake, a must read. And if you’re on Instagram- follow her making gorgeous cakes! @Whyibakedacake
Another recipe in her post, is an infusion for steeping gardenia petals in a simple syrup- which I’ve dubbed Gardenia Elixir. Here’s how you make it:
- Mix 1 cup pure cane sugar to one cup of water in a saucepan, heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add the petals only of 4-5 gardenias.
- Allow to steep at least 4-5 hours (I steeped mine over night)
- Strain flower petals. Pour into airtight containers.
- I keep any extra￼ elixir chilled. When used, the fragrance is amazing. And, I made several batches to offer as gifts.
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine.