Making floral syrup has got to be my all-time favorite activity to do with the kids. In 2018 we made tons of rose syrup, then last year we made lemon verbena-rose and also lilac syrup. The lilac syrup post is here.
This year, the roses and lilacs are not yet in bloom. We made candied violets and now they are done blooming.
I have always wanted to make dandelion wine, but I am not there yet. Dandelions make regular appearances in our salads and stir-frys and all the kids love to munch on the flowers. I enjoy roasted dandelion root and have thought about trying to roast some roots myself. I also use the roots in tea without roasting.
After reading about dandelion syrup, it sounded achievable for us. I read a few recipes and used the following method…
First we got to pick LOTS of dandelions. We decided to pick about 150. The kids loved helping with that part and we got all of them out of our backyard. We probably have 500 more in the front yard, so I figured if we screwed it up we could always start again. And the kids are pretty much always happy to pick flowers!
Once they were gathered all together, we got a bowl of water and decided to wash them. I read some recipes that had you wash them, and some that didn’t. My kids wanted to wash them since there were a few ants in them and I figured it was good to wash them since kids mostly love things to do with water.
I also think that it’s easier to get the petals off when you wash them (but more on that later…)
We dipped them in water, shook them out and then let them dry on a towel in the sun. The 5-year-old loved lining them up. The 3-year-old did a couple and then went on to her own projects in the yard. One thing I recommend is giving the younger ones (2 and 3-year-olds) their own bowl and some flowers to wash that you don’t intend to use in the syrup…more on that later too.
Ours dried in a couple of hours and we ended up leaving them a little longer than that and they wilted, but that seemed to be good for getting the petals off the green stem.
Then you remove the petals. This is a part where it is a REALLY terrific idea to let anyone younger have they own bowl and their own flowers.
Basically you have to remove all of the yellow from all of the green. If you get little bits of the green in there, it’s fine, you just don’t want the entire green bit in the syrup because it makes it bitter.
We tired both pulling the yellow off and using scissors. I like the hand removal way better because it feels more exact and also seemed less time consuming. The 5-year-old could do it easily both ways. The 3-year-old like to cut the whole thing up into little bits, or pull it apart into little bits and toss it in the bowl green bits and all! That was when I decided she could have her own bowl and make her own batch. She loved that idea too. She even stole some of mine for her batch (much to my hard-work and dismay.)
I tired taking some off of a fresh flower and the ones that had been washed and wilted were so, so, so much easier.
It took awhile but was a nice little thing I could do in breaks of time between helping the kids, helping the baby etc. as long as they couldn’t reach the bowl.
The 3-year-old loved making her own bowl and here she is happily showing me what she did...greens and all.
(Take a look at the awesome grip on her foot if you are a movement person!)
After the yellow part is all taken off, I put them in a pan, covered them with water and boiled them for about 1minute. Then I removed them from the heat and steeped them in the fridge for about 20 hours. You could steep them a little more, or a little less.
The next day we strained them. I squeezed the extra water out of the dandelions and it amounted to about 1.5 cups of liquid in the end. It’s okay if it’s a little more or a little less…
Then we put the dandelion liquid in a pan over medium heat with an equal amount of sugar. We heated it over medium heat and stirred it frequently as it simmered. We simmered it for about 30 minutes while we made pancakes and it thickened a bit.
We let it cool, put some on our sourdough blueberry pancakes and put the rest in a jar in the fridge. Delicious!
This is the plate made by the 3-year-old. She exuberantly decorated it with some of her own syrup (including her greens) and some of mine!
Enjoy, and feel free to email me with questions!