Daryl has made dandelion syrup several times with our kids and it’s always a big hit. Not only is it fun, but the syrup tastes delicious and it’s full of vitamins from the dandelions. It’s also a great vegan substitute for honey, with a similar color and taste.
Although it’s the dead of winter right now here in Minnesota, I just realized that Daryl’s recipe is no longer online anywhere, so I’m putting it here for when the dandelions are blooming in a few months.
Here are his instructions from the first and second time he made it, with his notes. I know he has pictures of all of the steps on his old computer from his original directions, so I’ll see if he can add those soon, too.
Here’s a fun way to make use of all the dandelions in your yard (or any unsprayed area) — make dandelion syrup! This recipe is not only fun and easy, but tastes delicious.
Your children will have great fun collecting the dandelions, helping to make the syrup, and eating it!
Dandelion Syrup Revisited:
About two weeks ago, I made dandelion syrup for the first time and it tasted so good that I had to share it. It was almost like a clover honey. After aging, though, it has a different flavor. It’s now deeper, a bit reminiscent of maple syrup. Since then I’ve learned more about the process, so with foraging bags in hand my troops and I went out to pick more dandelions so we could make a second batch.
The basic steps involved in making dandelion syrup are:
- Pick the flowers.
- Remove the petals from the flower heads.
- Measure the amount of petals, and place them and an equal amount of water in a kettle.
- Boil the petals for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and put it in a covered crock to stand overnight (to extract as much flavor as possible).
- Pour the petal “mash” through a strainer, pressing the pulp to remove any remaining liquid.
- Measure the liquid and put it in a kettle with an equal amount of sugar. Cut up and add a lemon (or add a dash of lemon juice) and put in just a small pinch of ground cloves.
- Bring it to a boil, stirring to mix it well. Reduce the heat so it is just barely boiling and let it cook down for an hour and a half or so, until it thickens.
- Pour it through a strainer and into a jar. Cover it and refrigerate it. Our first batch has lasted for nearly 3 weeks, and the flavor is getting deeper over time..
Remember – only pick flowers from fields or lawns that haven’t been sprayed. Avoid flowers with brown or damaged petals, and brush or blow away any insects on the flowers. You should always pick on a dry day, when the flowers are fully opened and all dew has evaporated.
Tips and notes:
How many in a cup?
We ended up picking about 4 cups of flower heads, which turned out to be 185 flowers. It only took about 10 minutes with 3 kids helping (including Fiona, my 20 month old). It would have gone quicker but the dandelions aren’t as widespread as they were earlier in the season.
Be sure to process the flower heads as soon after picking as you can, or they’ll close up again. You can still remove the petals just like the open flowers, but any insects on the blossoms may be trapped inside.
Plucking the petals
Last time I used scissors to remove the petals from the flower head, but decided to try twisting them out instead for this batch. It took longer, and to be honest I think I ended up with almost as many of the green sepals in the bowl as I did when using scissors. It was easier to pick the sepals back out, though, since they were larger pieces.
How many petals to a cup?
It turns out that the petals from 100 blossoms equals about 1 1/2 cups, so one cup is about 66 flowers’ worth. For the entire batch of dandelions, we ended up with 2 2/3 cups of petals.
Cooking it down
To be a little more precise in our recipe, we added about the same amount of water as petals. We added 3 cups of water (just to be sure it was covered), which was just about perfect, and put it on to boil for 5 minutes.