Urban Dandelion and Burdock

Europe is awash by roaring Dandelions at the moment. They are standing proud and showing their wooly faces in parks, along roadsides, in fields and hedgerows. They also grow happily on my roof (and from there I harvest its leaves and roots) .

I love the taste of Dandelion and Burdock syrup, especially when mixed with water and drunk in the summer sunshine. Not many flavours remind me so fondly of my English childhood. But to make Dandelion and Burdock syrup, the roots of Burdock and leaves of Dandelion should be collected and boiled up with sugar water. I don’t use using sugar unless there is no other option and I don’t dig up Burdock roots. Roots tend to concentrate toxins, they are tough to dig up, fellow park visitors may pounce on me and tell me to stop and most of all, I’d like the plants to grow to maturity so that I may harvest the seeds and leaves.

Regarding the Dandelion leaves, I don’t ever harvest them in quantity from Amsterdam public spaces. They live on the plants for a long time, they get walked on and everything else you may like to think of happens on them, whereas the flowers are far more transient. I can more easily see if they are dirty, they only stay on the plant for a short time so are less open to pollution and I just love the sight of them in a jar of honey! Having said this, harvesting herbs from ground level in public spaces is always a bit of a risk, pollution is everywhere. But with syrups, a small amount is consumed in one go, the use of honey kills many bugs naturally and I feel that the benefits far outweigh the concerns. But that’s just me perhaps!

My version of Dandelion and Burdock simply requires honey, 20-30 fresh Dandelion flowers and a small Burdock leaf. That’s all. It has all the medicinal properties that Dandelion and Burdock plants offer, it is quick to make, tastes deliciously bitter-sweet and it keeps well.

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How to make Urban Dandelion and Burdock Syrup

1. Harvest 20-30 clean, fresh and lively Dandelion heads from a clean area.
Harvest one young, equally vibrant Burdock leaf from a super-healthy looking plant.

2. Place your harvest on a clean white surface for about an hour, to allow any resident bugs time to crawl away.

3. Tear up the Burdock leaf and layer dandelion heads and burdock leaf in a medium sized (250ml) jam jar.

4. As you layer the herb, carefully spoon in runny honey. Poke around a little with a clean chopstick so that air bubbles are released.

5. Continue to layer herb, spoon in honey and prod with the chopstick until the jar is full.

6. Check for obvious air bubbles and prod some more. Top up with honey (right to the lid) and secure with a well fitting lid.

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7. Leave to stand and infuse for at least three days.

8. Use as it is, as a toast spread or strain (or not) and use as a syrup base for refreshing summer drinks.

Bitter-sweet yum! It taste’s of the English summers of my childhood. We’ll try it on the Pluck Your Lunch! forage this Sunday

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