I was inspired by my foraging experience with Rita this weekend to try my hand with another edible weed: dandelions. This is another flower we have growing in abundance on our land.
The website Real Food for Life lists the following possible health benefits for just the yellow flower part of the dandelion plant:
- Contains antioxidants, which help protect the body from certain cancers.
- Provides pain relief, especially for especially for aches and cramps.
- Helps improve mood and relieve depression.
- Contains helenin, which may help those who have trouble seeing at night.
- Contains vitamins E and B12, which are good for the eyes.
- Dandelion pollen may have antibacterial properties.
The leaves and roots are even richer nutritionally. The website Nutrition and You provides a very detailed description of the health properties of all parts of the dandelion plant.
So, after reading this information, I thought - I'm going to try a couple different recipes with my dandelions! Sounds like they are a healthy and versatile edible weed. First I needed flowers though. I took my basket and set out to collect...
I picked and strolled and picked and strolled until I had a good basket-ful.
Then I came inside and read my recipes that I'd found more thoroughly. The first one that I wanted to try was something I found on Pinterest: Wild Fermented Dandelion Ginger Wine. The recipe is on a site called "Pixie's Pocket: Foraging, Herbalism and Homebrew" - perfect!
The recipe calls for one to two cups of dandelion petals. That meant I had to pick the petals out of the flowers, or maybe a better description is to say I picked the green base off of each flower. I didn't do it perfectly. There were some green pieces in my pile, but I got the vast majority out. I think these green parts may add bitterness though, so you want to get as much out as you have patience for. I did a full two cups.
Next I minced up about an inch of ginger, peel still on, and I added this to the dandelion petals.
Then came sugar! Lots of it! The top of the recipe doesn't list sugar, but rather raisins. In the text of the recipe, however, she calls for two to three cups of sugar or honey (if you want mead). I put in about 2-1/2 cups of sugar.
I had boiled a big pot of water before I began pulling the petals out, which had cooled some while I worked on my other ingredients. I measured out one gallon (16 cups) of this warm water and poured it over the other ingredients. It is supposed to go into a crock initially, but I didn't have anything big enough so I used a stainless pot. Hopefully this will work too.
I mixed it well to combine then covered with a clean, damp dish towel.
The recipe says that if it's not bubbling within 24 hours, I should add some yeast. I looked in this morning and nothing much was happening so I put in a pinch of bread yeast. I'm anxious to see when I get home if it's more active.
Check back, I'll add to my post as I move through the next steps:
1. After 3 days, strain it into a clean carboy and top it off with water.
2. Set the airlock and let the wine ferment until all bubbling stops and the liquid is clear.
3. Bottle it.
Next up - dandelion jelly.