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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lovely, lovely dandelions

When I was 21 and newly married, we moved from California to Iowa, where my husband had grown up.  One of my fondest memories is the fields and fields of yellow, dandelion carpets stretching across the landscape.  Originally planted by the Amana society, the dandelions were used for dandelion wine.  How could people say that dandelions were pests and weeds?  Just look how lovely they were!

Later I learned that the much-maligned dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a wonderful food, herb, and medicinal plant.  I've been eating dandelion blossoms and leaves for years.  I love the slightly bitter leaves in a salad or steamed like spinach.  The flowers are wonderful sautéed with beaten egg and feta cheese, or stir-fried with fresh asparagus and fiddleheads.

We have a bumper crop of dandelions this year, and the flowers are both copious and large.

I picked several earlier this week that spanned two finger-widths.  I say I picked them, but actually I snipped the petals with as little of the sepals as I could manage, and filled a large bowl full of petals, all for the joy of dandelion blossom syrup.

Dandelion petals in the bowl

If you've never had it, you have missed one of life's little delights.  Many recipes call for lemon or orange peel and juice; I prefer just the taste of the dandelion itself, so I leave out the citrus. It took about a half hour to fill the bowl, but the time was spent in the afternoon sunshine on a warm and breezy May afternoon, and I got to watch a native bee buzzing from blossom to blossom gathering pollen as I gathered flowers.  I had a bee's eye view, one might say.

Once I had enough, the petals were covered with water and brought to a boil in a gallon pot, then covered and left to steep overnight.

Steeping the petals
This morning, I drained the blossoms in a sieve, squeezing the petals of all their liquid.

I measured 82 ounces of the liquid by weight, added the same weight of evaporated cane syrup, and heated it slowly while I stirred the sugar

Once it reached a boil, I let it simmer for 2-3 hours, until it reached about 215° F, a nice rich syrup, then hot packed it into jelly jars.  Of course, I left a jar out for immediate use, but oh! it's so nice to see that syrup lined up and waiting!

Dandelion Blossom Syrup is delicious. It's hard to describe the taste, at once light and sweet. One friend that I let try it says "It tastes like sunshine." 

The next day I made another batch.  Good thing, too, because the day after that the rains came, and they're staying for a while.


  1. Have you made dandelion jelly? My friend has made that, says it tastes like honey. I'm off to pick strawberries to make jam!

  2. I tried this year, but it didn't set. When I find time, I'll redo the jelly with more pectin. Until then...I have more syrup--and it tastes wonderful in water kefir. :)


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