Aren't dandelions weeds? That's what I thought for years. Several years ago I learned that dandelion leaves made a good tea for liver detox. So I started drying it along with my peppermint, lemon balm, feverfew, calendula, roses, lavender for teas and the rosemary, basil, and oregano for cooking. But that's as far as I went. When I visited my aunt in Kansas in 2010, I went through all my grandmother's recipes. What's this recipe in my grandma's recipe box for dandelion jelly? It interested me that my grandmother would make a jelly from things I thought were just weeds--so I wrote it down.
Grandma B's Dandelion Jelly
Pick dandelions: In the morning pick 4 cups of dandelion blossoms without stems.
Prepare jelly: Boil the blossoms with 4 cups of water for 3 minutes. Drain off the liquid. Then add 1 package of pectin, 1 t of lemon juice, and 4 1/2 cups of sugar. Boil for about 3 minutes.
It made me laugh when she wrote at the bottom dandelion jelly tastes like honey. I thought with 4 1/2 cups of sugar it better! Needless to say for the past 4 years that recipe just sat in my recipe binder. That is until I went to a farmer's market with my daughter this spring and there on a table was a recipe for dandelion honey. What interested more was the information they gave about all of vitamins and minerals dandelions contain!
Who would have thought. Most of the time I'm yanking them out and throwing them into my compost bin. And by the way most of my dandelions grow in the the alley and near my compost bins! So they're organic on top of it! So far this year I've made three batches of dandelion honey.
When I made it a few weeks ago with some of my grandkids I canned it small half pint jars. By the way I've done this twice with my grandkids, and they loved it! Must be something about making food out "weeds" in the yard! The recipe below is a combination of these two recipes! And yesterday I did some searches on dandelions and if you look at the next section you can click on those links and learn some more about their health benefits.
1. Pick dandelions: Pick a bunch of dandelion heads in the morning when they're open. You will need 4 cups for this recipe.
(1) Place 4 cups of dandelion heads in a pan.
(2) Add 3 cut up lemons (I have just used 1 cut up lemon and it works very well.)
(3) Simmer for 30 minutes.
(4) Turn off stove and let steep overnight.
3. Strain dandelions in the morning - Put a bowl under the strainer:
Strain through a cheesecloth or I just used my small strainer. Press the dandelions into the strainer to squeeze out all the juice.
4. Make the dandelion honey:
(1) Pour the strained dandelion liquid into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.
(2) Slowly stir in 2 1/8 cups of sugar (I just do 2 cups--and what a difference from my grandmother's old fashioned recipe!)
Note: If you want to make this a bit thicker, then add 1/2 package of pectin like my grandmother used to do. It will give it just the right amount to give it more of that honey consistency and not make it turn into a jelly (that is unless you want it to!)
(3) Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Make sure the mixture does not turn dark that means it's going to taste like burnt Carmel!
5. Pour the honey into clean jars and refrigerate.
6. Canning the dandelion honey:
I've done a lot of canning and I was making blueberry jam when I was working on this honey so I washed up some of the half pint jars, filled them with hot water until they were ready. And then when the dandelion honey was done, I ladled it into the jars, put on hot lids, and stuck it in the canner for 5 minutes. Click on the link if you want to see some directions for canning jam.
When two of my grandkids did a sleepover, they helped me on the last stage of this dandelion honey and we put it in our tea. You can see my oldest granddaughter stirring the sugar into the strained dandelion liquid. They thought it was pretty cool and asked for a jar to take home.
Health Benefits of Dandelions
Today I checked out some sites on the health benefits of dandelions. I was wondering about this because of the information I read on the above sheet from the Farmer's Market that highlighted the nutrients in the flowers for this dandelion honey. I was a bit skeptical, like really? So on one site the gal humorously wondered why people were throwing pesticides on dandelions when they are so full of nutritional benefits, and who decided that the dandelion was an ugly weed instead of an herb?? I've known for years that dandelion leaves are helpful for detoxifying the liver, but I learned on Nutrition and You and Organic Facts that they do so much more than that! They point out a few precautions that some people's skin might be sensitive so just take a little to see how your body responds.
And if after reading that you want to know how to dry dandelion flowers and leaves to make your own tea, you can find that information on Garden Guides.
Other jam posts you can check out on this blog:
Making Low Sugar Blackberry Jam
How to Make Low Sugar Raspberry Jam
Homemade Apple Butter
Triple Berry Low Sugar Jam
How to Make & Can Your Own Blueberry Jam
Just Like Grandma's Homemade Low Sugar Strawberry Jam
Other canning posts you can check out on this blog:
Making & Canning Applesauce
Tasty Countertop Pickles - Naturally Fermented Without Vinegar!