Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dandelion Heaven

I got up on Saturday morning full of plans for the day and before they could dissipate with that first jolt of caffeine I wrote them on the kitchen chalk board and hence had a series of plans to keep me going until wine o'clock in the evening.

First things first - Milla went up to my neighbour's house to perform her Spring chores - equine lawnmower. Thank you to Thea who helped with carrying up the fencing posts and water bucket.

So with Milla happily ensconced in grass heaven, I moved down the list, skipped the next few items and went straight to the dandelion entries.

Dandelions are one of the few weeds I positively welcome in the garden, and never weed to get rid of them as every part of the plant is useful for something.

This year I am trying out two new recipies with dandelion flower heads - dandelion oil and a dandelion version of Chartreuse.

Dandelon flower heads contain a mild pain reliever and make a good massage oil for use on aching limbs and joints.  All I did for this was collect up a good bowl full of flower heads, no stalks, then wedged them into a stoppered bottle which I pre-rinsed with boiling water to sterilise them, I topped up the bottle with olive oil, with a quick shot of vodka floating on the top to prevent any mould forming.  These bottles now need to infuse over the next month or so in a warm sunny place, then can be used as a muscle relaxant, a massage oil for joints, on rashes and to help prevent scars from forming.

Dandelion Chatreuse is a herby tasting liqueur made very easily just by gathering another couple of bowl fulls of dandelion flowers, I put mine in a jar for ease, added 4 heaped tablespoons of sugar, zest of half a lemon and topped off the jar with vodka, leave to steep for at least four weeks, then strain and bottle for a summery alcoholic base for cocktails, or drink over a couple of ice cubes with a sprig of mint.

Here are a few more dandelion uses:

Dandelion is one of the most useful and common herbs masquerading as a weed in most gardens.  The leaves and the roots are both used in medicines and the flowers have antioxidant properties and are believed to be helpful for the immune system.
1:  Collect buckets full and feed them to your chickens, geese, ducks and rabbits ........................................ too easy .
2: Young dandelion leaves are great in a salad, but the older leaves can be a bit bitter ................................... boring.
3: Dandelion cough syrup – this is particularly good for a tickly cough, just take a soothing spoonful when required – but try not to exceed 12 doses in a day.
Take 250g of good quality honey or 500g soft brown sugar, and add to a saucepan with about 25 big yellow flower heads, pour in enough water to cover, bring to a boil and then leave to simmer.  Stir frequently until mixture starts to thicken, remove pan from the heat, and sieve the syrup into a sterilised jar or bottle that has a good seal.  Leave to cool.  The syrup should keep for about 2 to 6 months in a cool place, but check for any spoilage before using.
4: Dandelion coffee – now I am not saying that this could be a replacement for that good old caffeine kick in the morning – but – dandelion root is a very effective detoxifying herb – so this is an ideal treatment for a hangover (best to prepare it well in advance though).
Gather a good selection of roots, wash well and dry them, either out in the sun, or in a low temperature oven.  Once dried roast the roots at 240°c/475°f/gas 9, for 2 hours until they are brittle. When cool, grind them up and use the powder as you would normally make your coffee.
5: Last but not least – why include a hangover recipe without any alcohol – Dandelion wine.
Dandelion flower heads (no stalks or leaves) – up to the 500ml mark in a measuring jug
2 litres hot water                              1 peeled Satsuma                            juice of 1 lemon                               
1 tsp dried yeast                               200g granulated sugar                    ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
Wash the flowers and place in a large bowl, pour over the hot water, cover and leave for 3 days, stirring occasionally.
Strain the infusion into a demijohn with an airlock through a very fine sieve or muslin cloth.
Add the satsuma piece by piece, along with the lemon juice, ginger, yeast and sugar.
Leave for three weeks at room temperature to ferment (not less than 15°c or above 25°c)
Sieve into sterilised bottles and leave for a further three weeks to finish fermenting, and drink within 6 weeks.

Taken from my article submitted to Freepress, last year.

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1 comment:

wildcraft diva said...
Linked to this-thanks :)