Dandelion syrup.

Botanical name: 

I wrote this one in the middle of winter, remembering summer, and smiling all the while. Enjoy:

Photo: Taraxacum officinale 34.It's spring / early summer. Outdoors, you see dandelion flowers everywhere - wow, such a profusion of yellow! Take your basket and start picking flowers. You want a lot - if you were making a bouquet you'd pick at least twice as much as both your hands can take. Finally your basket is full, and you retire to a cooler spot. Pour your flowers onto a sheet of newspaper, in the shade, to give the bugs a chance to leave.

After a nice cup of something, and a sandwich (or about an hour) you start to remove the green parts of the flowers from the yellow parts. It's a good idea to have your forest gear still on, that dandelion juice will stain anything. Take a good grip on the stem/green under part of the flower with one hand, take the yellow part of the flower in your other hand, and -twist- - I haven't found any easier (or faster) way to do this, and it takes some time to learn even that trick. This will take at least twice as long as the picking, so prepare for one whole day of dandelion syrup making, or don't even start. If you leave in greens, even just a tiny bit, you might ruin your whole syrup.

I usually do this sitting on the doorstep, outdoors, enjoying the summer - the wind, the flowers, the many shades of green, the buzz and bees around me (this early in summer there aren't very many mosquitoes around), and the birds singing.

Put all yellow parts into one big bowl. The green parts? Discard; the flower bottoms of dandelions have too many inhabitants for me to feel comfortable using them in salads or as dried herbs, even if it's the green parts (and the roots) of dandelion which are medicinally active, as diuretics, bitters, and liver tonics (just to mention the main uses).

Once you've done all your flowers you pour the yellow parts (or as much of it as will fit) into a pot and pour water over. Bring to a boil, and let boil for some time. Pour thru a sieve, discard flowers (they have almost no taste left in them now), add more flowers to the same water, and repeat the procedure until you have no flowers left. The more flowers you add to the same water the stronger the taste of your syrup will be.

Next add sugar - one part sugar (by weight) to one part dandelion water (by whatever you wish to measure with). Boil on low heat until you get a syrupy consistency. Watch your kettle, it'll burn in no time if you don't.

Take a taste - hmmm; ) - nice nutty flavor, with a hint of vanilla, even if you didn't add anything that would give you that taste ... strange? No, just dandelion flowers. Use it on icecream, on frozen fruit (with a bit of milk - yum), or on anything else you can think of which might need a hint of summer.

The syrup will crystallize if kept in the fridge for long (nice crystals though); it'll stay fluid in the freezer.

- Henriette

(PS. There's a better recipe on my blog now. This one captures the essence of early summer, though.)