Ah, spring! The trees come into leaf, plants bloom again and the green lawns are covered with ... dandelions.
Dandelions, whose scientific name is Taraxacum officinale, are a member of the aster family. Its popular name is the English corruption of the elegant French name, dent-de-lion, or “lion’s tooth.” (The more vulgar name, pisse-en-lit, has not been applied in English.) When the weather warms up, this perennial weed emerges in the millions and covers the grass with its yellow flower, which is actually a virtual bouquet of about 150–200 tiny flowers. Each flower then turns into a seed-producing floret in the form of a puffball that looses its seeds into the wind, propagating the plant. Dandelions grow throughout the temperate zone, from the southern United States to northern Ontario.
What good are these troublesome weeds? Well, actually, they are quite useful. So useful, in fact, that they were intentionally imported to North America by the Pilgrims. This little plant was particularly useful to the early colonists, both for medicine and for food.
Dandelions are the bane of many a homeowner's existence, but they can be transformed into the most delicious sunshine-filled liqueur (colloquially called wine) by making a dandelion tea and then letting it ferment with sugar and citrus.
- 4 cups dandelion flowers
- 6 cups boiling water
- 2 1/2 cups Huckle Bee Farms Raw Honey
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- Place dandelion flowers in a large heatproof container. Pour boiling water over top. Cover and let steep for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. When making dandelion wine, cleanliness is key. Make sure your kitchen counters, hands, and all utensils are sterile.
- Pour the resulting tea through a fine-mesh strainer into a large pot or saucepan, pressing the petals to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard blossoms and bring tea to a boil.
- Place HONEY in a heatproof 1-gallon jar. Pour boiling dandelion tea into jar and stir to dissolve. Add lemon and orange slices. Cover jar and let liquid stand for 2 weeks at room temperature, shaking every couple days.
- Pour dandelion wine through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter into a clean container. Serve or cover and store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.