Weed those pesky dandelions from your lawn and make a treat from the flowers. Dandelion honey isn't honey made by bees, but rather it is really dandelion syrup made with the flowers and sugar. You're the bee converting flowers into sweet goodness.
Dandelion honey is a good substitute for honey, with a surprisingly similar flavor. The consistency is thinner than most honey. It has a very similar appearance in color.
If you have a lawn dotted with dandelions and where you are sure there haven't been any chemicals applied, you can forage for the flowers. The tender greens are also good for salads. If spring has sprung but the bees aren't yet buzzing enough to make honey, this is a fun seasonal substitute.
Dandelion honey is great on toast, muffins, pancakes, and biscuits. You can use it much as you would use honey in tea and beverages.
- Pick dandelion flowers during the daylight while in full bloom.
- Soak the flowers in cold water for five minutes to allow time for any insects to exit.
- Remove the petals, then measure the petals only. Discard the center of the flower and the stem.
- Place the petals in a heavy saucepan along with the water, lemon slices, and vanilla bean.
- Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer it for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 6 hours.
- Strain the dandelion tea through a cheesecloth and discard the solids.
- Place the dandelion tea in a heavy saucepan and bring it to a low boil.
- Gradually add sugar to the boiling liquid while stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered until it reaches the desired syrupy thickness. This may take up to 4 hours.
Store dandelion honey in the refrigerator.
Some cooks leave the flower heads intact, but this can add a bitter note to the honey. It's best to use only the petals and eliminate any green parts.
If you're concerned about who or what was tiptoeing through the dandelions before you picked them, the rinsing and boiling processes should eliminate any lingering bacteria. However, it's best to avoid patches of dandelions that may have been treated with chemicals. Many aren't eliminated by boiling.
Picking the dandelion flowers will keep them from going to seed and propagating more dandelions. That's good news if you want fewer, but bad news if you discover you love dandelion honey and want lots more flowers the next season.