Fermented Milkweed Blossom Elixir

assortment of milkweed tea and milkweed leaves on a marble surface.



  • 2½ cups common milkweed blossoms, flowers only, stems discarded
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • Peel of 1 lemon, in long strips


Combine the flowers, sugar, water and lemon peel in a large sterilized glass jar. Use a long metal spoon to stir well, dissolving all the sugar.

Cover the jar’s mouth with a kitchen towel or double layer of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or string (to deter fruit flies). Stir once a day. 

Leave the jar at room temperature for 3–7 days. Small bubbles may begin to form. Taste daily and when it achieves the flavor you like, it’s done. Fermentation times will vary according to the wild yeast on the flowers and the ambient temperature.

Strain out the flowers and pass the liquid a second time through a fine-mesh strainer lined with damp cheesecloth.

Transfer the elixir to swing-top bottles and leave at room temperature for another 8 hours or more, as needed, to build up additional carbonation, if desired. Burp the bottle occasionally to monitor progress and release any excess gas. When finished, store bottles in the refrigerator. This will slow the fermentation but may not stop it entirely, so it’s essential you check the bottles every couple of days and release any built-up gas to avoid an explosive situation. Milkweed elixir is best consumed within a week or so, after which the flavor begins to change.

This story was originally published in December of 2019.