Friday, May 27, 2011

Foraging 15 & Booze of the week: Go look on your lawn for…Dandelion Liqueurs

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. – Doug Larson

They're literally everywhere!!!
So we have a lot of dandelions in Nova Scotia right now. People are calling in complaints to the City about dandelions on city property, and ordinary folks like me are fighting our usual Spring battle. So nothing is out of the ordinary, or is it?

It seems like all the wet weather we have had over the past month have encouraged the growth of our yellow friends. They do seem to be quite ferocious in some spots. Quite healthy looking...

So what do we do when something is growing well? We eat it! Or drink it in this case.

The red circled parts are the flower sepals. They are
bitter. They need to be trimmed off as well as the stem.
As a total aside, do you know where the name dandelion comes from?  In Old French they were dens lionis (lion’s tooth) because of the ragged leaves; in Middle English they were dent de lion.

If you remember from my previous posts, you can pick dandelion blossoms, batter and fry them. Everyone knows you can eat dandelion greens in a salad. An earlier post of mine also outlined how to make dandelion and burdock soda using the roots of both plants.

So it’s time to make some booze. Maybe a little inebriation will let us appreciate these wildflowers a little bit more. Ir at least not have the desire to rush at them waving a hoe.

Believe it or not patio weather will come sooner or later, so you’d better be prepared. Unless you’re the kind of person with friends who only drink beer you should probably arm yourself with some “company’s coming” liqueurs for mixing fancy drinks. And if you’re going to do that, you may as well make your liqueurs interesting.

My recommendations? Strawberry, rhubarb, definitely lavender, and one of these two Dandelion liqueurs (or both). Overall I find the floral liqueurs quite interesting. They add an herb yet sweet taste to mixed drinks. They make you think of blossoms. Of course, you can serve any or all straight up.

I just want to say this next bit to avoid any confusion. This is not dandelion wine. These liqueurs are an infusion from the flowers or roots into already distilled booze. No backyard “still,” carboy or whatever else is required.

If you want dandelion wine try here: or here
Both recipes take months to age after fermentation, but apparently it's pretty good stuff.

Makes a great gift!
Dandelion Liqueur (2 ways)
2 quart mason jars
750 ml vodka*
dandelion roots and flowers
2 cup sugar
2 cup water
1/2 lemon, juice and rind

Flowers: cut off the small green parts around the bottom edge of the flowers. They’re bitter tasting. 

Roots: Dig up the roots and trim off any of the green. Wash the roots well and let them dry. Then chop up.

Fill 1/2 of each jar, one with flower heads and one with chopped roots. Add 1/2 of the vodka to each jar. Place a piece of lemon rind in each jar. Seal tightly. Let steep in the dark for 1 week (but not in your refrigerator). Every so often give the jars a shake.

After 1 week, strain the infused vodkas into two separate containers.

To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, add the lemon juice and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Cool this syrup and then add half to each of the infused vodkas and bottle separately. Both liqueurs will be substantially different from each other.

A 50/50 ratio of vodka to syrup will render a liqueur of about 20% alcohol content.

I have been led to believe that the dandelion blossom liqueur does not have a shelf life longer than a couple weeks. The root liqueur will age for several months – that’s “age,” not necessarily “last,” if you get my drift...

* I have seen recipes where the base alcohol was gin or white rum, so feel free to experiment.


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