May 30, 2017

Dandelion Syrup - Because Dandelions are no Weed!

As I have mentioned before Dandelion should not be considered a weed, it has many health benefits and the different parts of the Dandelion can be a tasty addition in your cooking or baking.

picture collage to promote Dandelion Syrup with Dandelion flower heads and a bottle of Dandelion syrup

Today I share with you our Dandelion syrup recipe which I have been making for the past 4 years every spring. We eat it with pancakes instead of maple syrup and I also use the dandelion syrup in cooking and baking. I like to add a table spoon of it so my bread dough as a starter help for the yeast or sour dough. It also adds a little extra flavour to the bread.  Dandelion syrup is also said to be a cough remedy if combined with ginger and used one teaspoon per day. But I have not tried this yet as we usually use thyme extract from our trusted pharmacy as a cough remedy which works wonders for my boys and they love taking it.

To make the dandelion syrup I send my boys out in the garden every spring with a bowl each and tell them collect me as many fully opened yellow Dandelion flower heads as you can.  This is this years result!

dandelion flowerheads after collecting for dandelion syrup

Once those bowels are filled with flowers we all sit down and pluck off just the yellow bits of the flower.
little boy plucking dandelion flower heads for dandelion syrup

plate full of plucked dandelion flowers for dandelion syrup

Next I browse them off with cold water and then put them in a sauce pan for every 3 cups of yellow Dandelion tips ( loosely filled into cup not squashed) you add  4 cups of water.

Bring to boil and then let cool down and let stand at room temp (18-22C) for 12-18h.
Pour boiling water into the bottles and caps which you want to use for storing the dandelion syrup. This is to sterilise them. Next discard water in caps and pour either vodka, rum or any other drinkable high percent alcohol into the lids to sterilise them. That little amount of alcohol I pour into dandelion liquid, just to not waste it, it isn't really part of the recipe, it is more an ongoing joke between me and my husband, that I am not wasting his good stuff just because I want to sterilise my caps. Once you have all this prepared pour the dandelion-water-mix through a  tight meshed sieve into another pot. Make sure all dandelion flower bits are caught by the sieve and are discarded onto your compost pile. Bring the remaining dandelion infused water to a boil and add for every 4 cups of it 500 grams of raw brown sugar and the juice and zest of one organic lemon.
zested lemon for dandelion syrup

Leave at mild boil with no lid for at least 10 mins stirring it most of the time.
Fill into your sterilised bottles screw lids on and store in fridge for up to a year!

bottles of dandelion syrup

a bottle of homemade dandelion syrup decorated with a dandelion flower

The dandelion syrup is a versatile addition to your food. A bottle will go a long way, similar to maple syrup or golden syrup. It is a great substitute for sweetening with something other than the usual sugar, maple syrup or honey. Especially in the vegan kitchen where the cook is also thinking green and doesn't want to use maple syrup or rice syrup for various reasons (making and transport would be two major ones coming to my mind) this is a great addition to the pantry. Nearly anyone with a backyard has Dandelions, they are easy to spot and identify. There isn't really much where you can go wrong and if you are new to foraging, this one would make a great start. 

What was your first foraging experience? Mine were Blueberries and wild garlic both in an old forrest. 

I hope you enjoye this recipe.

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May 17, 2017

Dandelion Pesto - Because Dandelions are more than just a weed!

Most people would see Dandelions as weeds, but trust me if I tell you they are not just full of yumminess but also have many health advantages.

Dandelion Pesto - Because Dandelions are more than just a weed!

Dandelions are not just a rich source of the vitamins A, B complex, C & D. They also contain minerals like iron, potassium or zinc. In herbal medicine is often used for liver and kidney disease, skin problems or even as part of a cough medicine.  As a kid I never knew their real name I only knew them under the not very nice name "piss a beds". Today, when I looked a little closer into the medicinal properties the connection struck me for the first time, because our ancestors gave them this not so polite name, because Dandelions are a very potent diuretic, which in lay man words means they make your kidneys produce a lot of urine, hence young kids with less bladder control might wet their bed during the night.

Apart from adding a few leaves into our salads I make dandelion syrup every spring and dandelion pesto every couple of weeks. I am working on a post for the syrup, but today I want to share the dandelion pesto recipe with you.

You start by grinding 80 grams parmesan cheese and put aside.
Roast 60 grams pine kernels in a pan with no oil.
roasting pine kernels for dandelion pesto
put ground cheese, roasted pine kernels into your food processor bowl and add
80 grams young dandelion leaves (the older the more bitter),
dandelion, ready to be harvested for dandelion pesto and dandelion syrup

freshly picked dandelion leaves for dandelion pesto

chopping dandelion leaves for dandelion pesto

1 tablespoon honey or dandelion syrup (more if leaves of dandelions are a bit older hence more bitter)
150 grams olive oil good quality!
1/2 tsp salt
some pepper (preferred red but black will do if not at hand)
zest of half a lemon
zesting a lemon for dandelion pesto

1-2 cloves of garlic.

Pulse in food processor until you have reached pesto consistency. Taste and maybe add more honey/dandelion syrup if it is too bitter for your taste. But give the bitterness a chance before you sweeten it away! You know why? Our tongue has taste buds for sweet, for salty, for sour and for bitter? While the first ones get used regularly the bitter ones don't get used much at all in our day and age. But we should get back into the habit of using them! If you are one of those that hasn't used their bitter tasting taste buds in a while, you might dislike the first try, taste again, it will grow on you and eventually you will get addicted to a certain extend! Serve with pasta, on a sandwich or on a burger or  on fried potatoes with melted feta cheese or any other use you can think of!

dandelion pesto

The Dandelion Pesto will keep in the fridge just make sure it is always covered with a layer of olive oil. The longest I have kept it without going off was 3 weeks, but I only used clean cutlery and storage container! It might have lasted longer, I can't say. It simply was empty at this stage not gone off!
One little side note: When foraging for your dandelion leaves, please be aware of where you pick them. You don't want to pick them along the most popular doggy walk lane and if you pick them outside of your garden be aware of Echinococcus multilocularis if this is a problem in your area! As you don't heat pesto up enough to kill these larvaes.

But don´t be put off by this. Just watch were you forage and stay safe! And this is not just for Dandelions, I mean in general!

And with this I bid you good bye for today and hope you enjoy the dandelion pesto as much as I do!