In Defence of Dandelions

For many people the humble dandelion is one of the scourges of the garden; a sign of the arrival of summer as welcome as its counterpart, the wasp.

As children many of us have taken great delight in blowing dandelion clocks, even though they will never win any prizes as accurate time pieces, and through teenage and adolescent years giggled about their apparent capacity to make you wet the bed. As adults though this relationship seems to change as people become concerned with pristine lawns, uniform blandness and an aesthetic of beauty which seems far more concerned with uniformity and control than any sense of diversity, ecology or indeed, fun.

So, dandelions are fun! You can blow them you can flick them, you can make massive ‘daisy’ chains out of them, you can draw with them, make a form of coffee and indeed wine.

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Being blessed with a five year old daughter and a partner who loves gardening and all things rustic/organic getting hold of lots of dandelions does not represent too much of an issue, on a sunny day they can happily collect them by the bucket load.

As a student I first noticed the massive haul of these bright yellow followers around the common on which my parents live. I was also lucky enough to have a neighbour, closer in-fact to an adopted Granny, who handed down to me the recipe for making wine out of this abundant and free resource. Now don’t get me wrong, your first attempt at making this is unlikely to win awards, but is is a fun, and very inexpensive way of making a nice drink for the hot late summer evenings, or more likely have something to drink on a rainy night in August. I don’t know how unique or not this recipe is, but it’s nice!

Ingredients:

8 pints of dandelion flowers

8 pints of water

3 ib of sugar

1 inch whole ginger

1 lemon

1 orange rind

1 tbsp of brewers yeast (bread yeast works too)

1 slice of toast

1 handful of raisins (optional)

Method:

  • Boil the flowers in the water (to kill all the cat wee).
  • Cover it and leave it for 3 days to infuse.
  • Strain it into a large pan through some muslin sheeting.
  • Add the sugar, ginger, chopped lemon and the orange rind and heat gently for ½ hour.
  • Activate the yeast on the slice of toast
  • When everything has cooled down add the yeast and toast to the pan.
  • Pour the whole lot into glass demijohns (you may need to chop stuff up a bit to fit it through the neck) add the raisins if you want to.
  • Ferment with air locks for about 60 days.
  • Have a glass and enjoy 🙂
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