We’ve gone dandelion crazy! Today we harvested a whole bunch of dandelion flowers and made dandelion tea, dandelion syrup and dandelion jelly. Yum! This early in the season there aren’t a lot of plants to forage around here, except for the dandelions. The dandelions started blooming here last month. Since there weren’t any other flowers for our honeybees, we decided not to harvest any of the dandelions then and leave them all for the honeybees. Now that the fruit trees are blooming and the honeybees have more options to forage, we decided to harvest dandelions to make some homemade goodies!
Little A and I took our baskets and headed out mid morning once the sun had warmed up and dried off some of the rain from the day before. We have dandelions all over our property and since we don’t use any chemical weed killers or toxic sprays on our property, we knew our dandelions were safe to eat. The area we chose to harvest our dandelions was on the opposite side of our property from where the chicken tractors are and where the dogs don’t frequent to do their “business”. It was so much fun walking our property and harvesting these beautiful golden flowers that Little A says “look like sunshine!”
The beauty of making dandelion tea, syrup and jelly is that they all start out with the same basic recipe. You can make all three of these delicious goodies like we did or you can make just one. While you’re out foraging for dandelions, you might as well harvest some extra to make a batch of homemade dandelion salve which we love to use for achy muscles and dry skin!
How to make dandelion tea
Dandelion tea is the base for all the recipes we’re sharing today. To make dandelion tea:
1. Harvest about eight cups of dandelion flower heads. When you’re harvesting, it doesn’t matter if some of the stem is still attached since it will be cut off later.
2. Place all the dandelion flower heads in a collander and rinse to remove any bugs and dirt.
3. With a pair of kitchen shears, cut the yellow flower petals from the green base of the flower head. There still might be a few little bits of green left after you cut off the flower petals and that is fine as long as there isn’t too much (too much green can give it a bitter taste). Put the flower petals into a large pan. We fed the dandelion scraps to our chickens but you can also compost them.
4. Pour in eight cups of water. Heat to boiling then turn down the heat to simmer. Simmer for one hour. The dandelion flowers will infuse into the water and create a dark amber colored tea.
5. Strain off the dandelion flowers through a piece of cheesecloth. I have this large piece of cheesecloth and placed it inside a fine mesh strainer to strain off the dandelion tea. Wrap the cheesecloth around the dandelion flowers and press out any remaining liquid.
6. If you are turning the whole batch into tea, mix in sweetener of your choice (we used honey) until desired sweetness. If you plan to make a batch of dandelion syrup and/or jelly, pour off some of the tea to drink and keep the remaining tea for the other recipes.
7. Now enjoy your delicious dandelion tea! It can be served warm in a tea cup or pour over ice for a tasty herbal iced tea.
How to make dandelion syrup
To make dandelion syrup, you will need to start with the base of dandelion tea. We made our syrup similar to how we made cherry pit syrup last summer. The ratio of liquid to sugar or honey is 1:1
1. Measure how much dandelion tea you have and then place the dandelion tea in a pan on the stove. Turn on medium/high heat.
2. Measure out the amount of sugar or honey you need according to how much dandelion tea you have (if you have two cups of tea you will need to add two cups of sugar or honey) Pour in unrefined sugar or honey and stir.
3. Once the syrup reaches a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. The longer you simmer the syrup, the thicker it will be.
4. Once the syrup is done, pour it into glass jars and let it cool and refrigerate. If you aren’t using the syrup within the next few days you can freeze it. I like to pour it into these small glass canning jars and freeze it once it is cooled off.
How to make dandelion jelly
Dandelion jelly also uses the base of dandelion tea. We used the basic cooked jelly recipe from inside the box of our favorite natural pectin, Pomona’s Pectin. I did not can our dandelion jelly since it was a small batch and instead decided to freeze it like we did our honey sweetened strawberry freezer jam. If I was going to can it, I would have added in the lemon juice like the Pomona’s instructions stated. Dandelions are not acidic so need to have an added acidic ingredient like lemon juice to make them safe to can.
1. Pour four cups of dandelion tea into a pan on the stove and heat on medium/high. We added in 1 TBS of our homemade vanilla extract which made the dandelion jelly even more delicious, but adding vanilla extract is totally optional.
2. If using Pomona’s pectin, add in 4 teaspoons of calcium water (this comes in the box of Pomona’s Pectin). Stir.
3. Mix 4 teaspoons of the pectin powder into 1/4 cup of unrefined sugar or honey and sit aside.
4. Add in sweetener of your choice, we used this organic fair trade cane sugar and honey. Add in 1/2 cup of sweetener at a time, up to four cups total, depending on your preference for sweetness. We don’t like our jelly overly sweet so used about two cups sweetener.
5. Bring the liquid to a boil and vigorously stir in the pectin powder/sweetener mix you made in step three. I often use my immersion blender to mix everything together and ensure there are no clumps of pectin. Stir for one to two minutes and then turn off the heat.
6. Now the jelly is done! I used my canning funnel and ladled the jelly into canning jars with a 1/2″ head space just like I would if I was going to can it. I let it cool on the counter, put lids on and stuck it in the freezer. Of course we kept one jar out in the refrigerator to enjoy on our homemade bread each morning for breakfast!
Do you love foraging and eating dandelions? What other ways do you eat them?