By / 21st May, 2014 / Homegrown / Off

dandelion syrup use2Put away a taste of summer now, and enjoy it through the year

I realised yesterday that the dandelions in our back field were beginning to go to seed. It was time to spring into action if I wanted to get any dandelion syrup made this year.

My 10-year-old son was sent off with a carrier bag to collect flower heads – for syrup – and leaves – for salad. It made sense to do both at the same time. I’d asked for 100 flowers, but though he was out for an hour, and came back very hot and sweaty, he’d only managed to find 81. No problem – still enough for a bottle or so of syrup. At least we’d get a taste of it, and maybe it would last us beyond this gorgeous sunny weather, so that in the first cold snap we’d still be able to sip a bit of that golden liquid and remember the days when it used to be sunny!

So this is the recipe, if you’d like to make it yourself. Get picking quickly, though. Those flowers aren’t going to last long this year!

Ingredients

Dandelions – as many as you can find, but around 100 should make about a litre and a half of syrup.
Sugar

That’s it!

Wash your dandelions.
Cut the green base of the plant away from the flower, and carefully pick off the green casing, pulling out all the petals and placing them in a saucepan.
Cover the petals with a couple of litres of cold water, and make sure they’re all pushed beneath the surface.
Bring to the boil, and boil for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat, cool, and refrigerate in the pan overnight.
Strain the liquid, removing the petals (you can now throw them away), then weigh it. For every 100g of liquid, measure out 95g of sugar.
Add the sugar to the dandelion/water mixture, and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
Cool and bottle.

To drink it, add cold water, as you would with squash – fizzy water is particularly nice – and enjoy a little taste of that summer field from now until you’ve finished the bottle!

It goes without saying that you should be very sure the flowers you pick are dandelions! If in doubt, refer to reference books or online wildflower sites. And do make sure you wash them thoroughly.

The leaves make a lovely, bitter salad as well – they’re really high in vitamin A, vitamin K, carotein and potassium. I dress it with a little olive oil, a tiny bit of wine vinegar and black pepper. Or you can wilt them in a pan with a little olive oil and butter – just as you would spinach. Either way, they’re as good for you as green stuff gets – and they’re free at a hedgerow near you!
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