Dandelion Harvest

Or, the uppskera túnfífils, I believe.

One of the most easily recognizable signs of summer’s arrival here in Iceland (what equates to a cold spring for most of the rest of you) is the sudden profusion of dandelions everywhere. I always found these pleasant enough to look at (that is, when the little puff balls weren’t making me sneeze) but had never thought much about trying to do anything with them until this year, when a particularly enterprising friend of mine mentioned that you can make all sorts of things out of them—wine, in particular.

Well, dandelion wine sounded quite romantic, and I do like make-your-own sorts of projects. Also, I am up for any and all opportunities to forage around for edible things, particularly in Iceland (see: MUSSELLING!). So I set about doing some research on how to make dandelion wine, found a number of recipes/websites/videos/tutorials explaining the process, and decided to set out this weekend in search of some lovely soon-to-be-wine.

(Happily, I found a perfect white wicker basket with a handle a few weekends ago, so I got to hop around the fields and ocean-side paths swinging a basket along with me as I collected flowers. It was seriously picturesque.)

Well. I waited until midday when the dandelions visible from my doorway seemed to be opening and ripe for plucking (I had read that it is best to pick them when they are fully open) and then went out and picked myself a whole blooming (pun!) basket of flowers. My hands were basically mustard-colored by the time I got done.

Observe:

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Now, this is obviously awesome. But as it turned out, I had far more dandelions than I needed (or could bottle) for wine-making. And for that matter, dandelion wine takes a minimum of six weeks to properly ferment, which is quite a while to wait to enjoy the fruits of your labor (or despair your epic failure, as the case may be). So I suddenly needed to come up with something to do with the 20 odd cups of extra dandelions that I had diligently cleaned the buggies off of and trimmed. (This took. For-ev-er. Just for the record.)

Ask The Internet, and The Internet will come up with all sorts of interesting answers, though, so the second plan? Dandelion syrup. A day of soaking the flowers, and an afternoon of boiling that “tea” down to a thick, honey-like substance (just add sugar, juice of a lemon, and half an orange), and I now have six jars of extremely delicious dandelion syrup. For teas, for drizzling on cakes, for using as cordial in seltzer…all sorts of awesome things.

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I am so giddily proud I can hardly stand it. The thing is—the soaking dandelions don’t smell good, really at all. But once you add the sugar and the citrus and get it down to a concentrated syrup, it is super, super tasty. As it turns out, there’s no end to the things you can do with dandelions—and they are apparently really good for you—so I may have to go out on another forage soon…dandelion green pesto, maybe? Jelly?

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Dandelion Harvest

  1. Dandelion salad is my favorite salad in the universe: dandelion leaves (small ones), bacon, soft-boiled eggs, and a good vinegrette with some yellow petals for decoration. We ate that at home (in Switzerland) every spring and I would pay a lot of money to eat one right now 🙂

    • Ooh—good idea! I’ve been thinking I should go collect some greens for a salad—I was told they are a bit bitter, but so is arugula, and I enjoy that. With the eggs and the petals, it should be lovely, too. I didn’t realize that dandelion recipes were common in Switzerland——as it happens, one of the recipes I was referring to for the Dandelion syrup was by a woman whose Swiss grandmother used to make it all the time.

      No dandelions in your part of the world right now?

      • People are so obsessed with their perfect lawns, here (Alberta, Canada), that you rarely see dandelions around here. You can buy the greens in some stores, but they are huge and really tough, probably used to make wine. I tried to eat them in a salad once and they were horrible.

  2. So cool! I feel like there should be a children’s story out there that uses your beautiful image of those vibrant dandelions filling a beautiful basket! The syrup looks great!

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