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in praise of the dandelion

 
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Well, I'm quite impressed with my dandelion syrup.  The recipe was entitled 'vegan dandelion honey' but it didn't taste like honey at all to me.  I thought it was just as nice as elderflower cordial, and am hoping to make some more whilst the flowers are plentiful.  I'm thinking of putting some flowers in a lemon drizzle cake recipe and topping with the syrup.
 
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In dandelion territory, I bet there isn't even one kid that hasn't blown the fluff off dandelions or presented their mother or other female caregiver with bouquets of them.

We were outside a lot as kids and we used to pretend to be nomad pioneers, "building" our homes using piles of leaves or sticks for the outlines of the imaginary walls. After the walls, the very next thing we did was make a cookstove out of whatever was lying around, cause ya gotta eat, right?  Guess what our "meals" usually consisted of? Yep, dandelions. We would carefully pull the yellow petals and separate them from the greens. Sometimes we included violets and even grass. We didn't know that those actually were edible back then lol! I remember the milky white juice that was in the stems stained hands for a long time, but we still played with them, enjoying the looks of a curled stem. Poor dandelions lol!

Back then and even now, they are considered pests (and sometimes the kids are too lol) and people fight them feverishly. It's considered somewhat shameful if your yard has an overabundance of them. Consider us shameful because we have a lot of them,


 
Nancy Reading
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Some of the variation in flowers picked yesterday to make syrup.  Flower size and petal quantity varied widely.  Not sure how much the height of the flowers is due to location (not being trodden on) and how much to inherited traits.  Taller stems make them easier to pick.
I'm thinking that humans in the 'western world' must have been selecting for low growing plants that escape the lawnmower for the last hundred yeads,  the opposite of what you want from a food plant.  Anyone interested in dandelion seed from bigger flowered plants?  Perhaps I should start a breeding line 😀
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Nancy, to make the syrup do you boil the flowers and then add enough sugar to get to a syrup consistency?  You've got me very interested in trying to make some!
 
Nancy Reading
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Hi Greg, no boiling involved (except to make my water safe)
The recipe I used first was from the Homefarmer magazine (June 2017):
Put 2 big handfuls of dandelion flowers in medium bowl (no green bits) add 1 rounded teaspoon citric acid or juice of a lemon (this alters the flavour) cover with water (mine had just been boiled so was hot, but this is not specified in the original recipe). Cover and leave over night to infuse.  Strain into a second pan.  For each 100ml of liquid add 100g of white sugar (or 1 lb per 20 floz?) Bring to boil stirring to dissolve sugar, once dissolved pour jnto warm sterilised bottles and seal.  They say if you pasteurise the syrup it will last unopened for over a year, else it keeps a few weeks in the 'fridge.
I tried a variation of the recipe the second time following the method I use for elderflower cordial.  I have read that tartaric acid helps extract from plant cells, so tried with tartaric acid and adding the sugar before infusing overnight.  The theory being that the sugar will dissolve overnight so less boiling is required.  It worked pretty well, but I prefer the flavour with the citric acid.

I made cake with the sugar soaked petals from the second batch of syrup.  This turned out pretty well for a first attempt.  I used a variation on a pear cake recipe (which also works pretty well with grated Yacon):
Put 6 tbsp dandelion syrup, 3 eggs, 6 Oz melted butter and the sugar infused dandelion petals (I had about 10--12 Oz, but it probably dosen't matter) in one bowl and mix well. Sift 8 Oz SR flour (or plain flour plus baking powder to suit) into another larger bowl with 4 Oz caster sugar and mix .  Add liquid to flour and stir till smooth.  Pour into lined 2 lb loaf tin. Bake at 'top end of hot' (probably 180deg C) for about 1 1/2 hours.
I would describe the cake as 'substantial'.  You could probably reduce the sugar a little further, and then pour over some fresh dandelion petals and dandelion syrup when still warm a la lemin drizzle cake.
 
Greg Martin
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Thank you Nancy!  :)
Will try soon.
gift
 
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