Dandelions. We took a little stroll along Numedalslågen, the local river, amidst the valley’s hills and lush landscape. We stumbled across fields brightly dotted with their yellow blossoms, a welcome sight against the cloud-swirled sky. We filled a little bag and headed home to make tea, cookies and syrup. We drank the earthy tea before we nibbled on the sweet petal-infused cookies. The dandelion syrup steeped overnight, so we could enjoy its delightful nectar over our breakfast waffles.
It took me many years to see beyond their weed label and appreciate them for all they have to offer, a journey I’m still appreciating as every spring I try a new recipe or learn a new technique. As children, we would rejoice in blowing their pappi in the gentle breeze as though a troupe of dancers were swirling in the sky, destinations to be seen. It was magical, but as fun as it was to blow the wispy seeds as we made wishes, someone was there to remind us that we were only helping to spread these vicious weeds. We learned quickly that dandelions were unwanted and unfit for any cultivated area. I barely gave them a second thought as the years passed. How wrong I was.
Dandelions, while very much persistent in their spreading, are incredibly nutritious and rich in antioxidants. They contain fiber, vitamins A, B, C, K and E and minerals such as iron, zinc, boron, and calcium. They remove toxins from the body, boost the immune system, support healthy digestion and loads more. Overall, they offer incredible medicinal benefits as well as culinary delights.
Every part of the dandelion is edible. Young leaves are delightful in salads, the roots can be used in making a tincture as well as coffee and tea. Blossoms are lovely for tea and honey, and the petals can be added to baked goods. Even the unopened buds can be turned into delightful little capers. I’m only scratching the surface here though, as there are hundreds of wonderful recipes. Perhaps the first one to try and have on hand is a jar of sweet dandelion syrup, just ready to be poured.
Dandelion syrup has a pleasantly sweet flavor that makes it ideal on top of ice cream, oatmeal, baked goods like waffles and pancakes, and whatever else your heart desires. Be sure to pick the blossoms while they are in bloom and in a clean area free from animals, pesticides and herbicides.
Dandelion Syrup (løvetannsirup)
Makes enough to fill a 1/2 litre or 17 ounce jar/bottle
- 200 fully mature dandelion blossoms (you’ll end up with about 5 ½ cups / 13 dl petals loosely packed)
- 1 ½ liters water
- 1 lemon, sliced or juice of 1 lemon
- 3 ½ cups (700 g) granulated sugar
Rinse and dry the blossoms. Clip the yellow petals from the green base, trying to get as little of the green as possible as they add bitterness (a little is completely fine though).
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, bring the petals, water and lemon slices or lemon juice to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the stove, cover with a lid, and let steep for some hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Using a fine mesh strainer with a cheesecloth, strain the liquid over a medium-sized saucepan and squeeze the petals in the cheesecloth to remove any excess liquid. Discard the petals. Return the saucepan to the stove, stir in the sugar, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer for 1 ½ hours, or until the liquid is reduced by half and thickened to your likening. Carefully pour the syrup into sterilized glass jars. Keep in the refrigerator for a few months.