When my son first sent me this recipe my initial reaction was ‘Honey isn’t vegan!’ Even when I read the recipe I still couldn’t see how it would taste like honey. I wanted to try the recipe but was worried about picking lots of dandelions, as I know what an important first food they are for bees. It also initially put me off writing this blog, imagining hordes of witches scouring the country for dandelions! So I asked my Witchy friends for their advice and it was Rachel who said that dandelions are an important first food for bees, but this time of year there are lots of other flowers around for them. So if you want to try it I recommend you do so from late Spring onwards, please forage responsibly and leave plenty for the bees.
The safest place to pick your dandelions is somewhere away from busy roads and dog walkers. Also be careful not to pick any that may have been sprayed with pesticides. I was lucky as there are hundreds at the allotments where my son has 2 plots, and the keen gardeners there were only too happy to lose a few of them. You will want to pick them when they are fully open and only need the flower heads.
100g (2 cups) fresh dandelion heads
2 slices lemon
350ml (1.5 cups) water
Approx 300g (1.5 cups) sugar ( I used golden granulated)
About 2 medium sized clean sterilised jars
Don’t wash the flowers, just shake outside to remove any bugs and if you're really worried leave them for a little while on some kitchen roll so any bugs can crawl away. Washing will wash away the pollen and flower scent. Place the water, lemon slices and dandelion flowers in a saucepan. Simmer with a lid on for 15 minutes. Leave this to cool and infuse overnight.
The next day, strain the mixture by pouring it through a strainer or muslin cloth over a jug. Press down to make sure you got all of the juice out. Weigh the liquid, then weigh out the same amount of sugar.
Pour the liquid back into a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat gently and stir (only at this stage) until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it up to a gentle boil for about 15 minutes. You will notice that the liquid will darken and start to thicken. Test it regularly on a cold plate, or see if it clings to a metal spoon. It will thicken more as it cools, so aim to turn it off before it reaches your desired thickness. If you cook it for too long it will caramelise.
Pour into the clean sterilised jars and pop the lids on while it’s still hot.
If you change the amounts the times will vary.
The honey should last a few months if kept in a cool dark place. Once it’s been opened, keep in the fridge.