Dandelion syrup can be used in many ways, on top of pancakes or plain yogurt, anywhere you use a sweetener, really, you name it. I started imagining dandelion cocktails come summer; homemade dandelion ice cream sweetened with dandelion syrup and speckled with dandelion petals; dandelion this and dandelion that. Dandelion everything.It is a basic herbal infusion made into a simple syrup. I felt like I didn’t want to boil the bejeezus out of the blossoms, so I just brought them to a simmer and let them soak overnight. The puzzle for me was what sweetener to use. Traditionally white sugar is used, but white sugar lands last on my list of happy sweeteners. So, I played around with some other alternatives as well, all with quite different results.
• White sugar made a syrup with a faint taste of vanilla and very slightly nutty, it was really just mostly sweet and somewhat plain.
• Sucanat, one of my favorite sweeteners, was, as I expected, too heavy in flavor to let the subtle dandelion taste shine through. That said, it was very interesting; like an herbaceous molasses.
• Honey has that smooth edge that became more pronounced after simmering. I used a mild clover honey and the result was like a somewhat spicy and grassy honey.
• Agave syrup worked beautifully because it is such a clean-tasting sweetener—the syrup made with agave was sweet and clean, with bright green undertones.
So pick your dandelions, pick your sweetener and make some syrup. Many recipes call for lemon, which gives it a little kick of citrus. Suit yourself.
100 dandelion flowers, or 1 and 1/2 cups petals
1 cup sweetener (see above)
3 cups water
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
1. Remove the petals from the sepal (the sepal consists of the small tight leaves that extend from the stem and grasp the flower). This takes a while to get the hang of, but gets much quicker as you go along. Be sure to not allow any green into the petals, it will add bitterness to the syrup.
2. Place the petals in a medium pot and cover with 3 cups water and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit overnight.
3. Strain dandelion water into a bowl, pressing on the flowers with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid.
4. Return water to pot and add sweetener, and lemon juice if using, and simmer over low heat until thickened.
5. Allow to cool, and pour into a clean jar or bottle. Store covered in refrigerator.
Makes about 2 cups