It is Spring! And it is likely that your yard is harboring an abundance of those cheery, little weeds known as dandelions (Taraxacum officinale). Rather than let this prolific plant go to waste every year, I attempt to utilize them in some way. I have dried and preserved the roots and leaves for medicinal uses, and eaten the fresh greens as a food source.
This year, however, I thought I would try my hand at making a special treat using the flowers: Dandelion Soda. I started with a recipe I had found in a book years ago, called Dandelion Fizz. Problem was, it wasn't really all that fizzy. Still a good tasting drink, but it needed some work. This year, I worked on modifying the recipe, and I came up with a good tasting drink that fizzes just like soda.
2 Cups tightly packed dandelion flowers (gathered from a pesticide/herbicide free area)
4 Cups boiling water
2 Cups sugar
1 1/3 Cups honey
2 lemons, juiced (save the rinds!)
1. Rinse the dandelion flowers well to remove dirt and any little creepy-crawlies (I found several ants on my flowers).
2. Place the dandelion flowers in a heat-proof container made of glass, ceramic, enamel, or stainless steel (I used a large stainless steel bowl, but a crock would also work well); pour the boiling water over the flowers. Cover the container with a lid or a large dinner plate, and allow the dandelions to steep in the boiling water over night.
3. The next day, strain out the dandelions using a mesh stainer, a piece of nylon, or cheesecloth. Pour the liquid into a non-reactive pot (again, enamel or stainless steel work well). Add the sugar/honey, lemon juice, and lemon rinds to the pot as well. Heat until the sugar/honey dissolves, but do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Strain out the lemon rinds, and ladle or pour the liquid into a crock, a quart jar, or other non-reactive container. I have used canning jars, but I also have a glass decanter that I saved from some Captain Morgan and up-cycled into a soda fermenter-er for this project. I prefer to use glass; since it is transparent, you can easily check the progress of your soda to see if it has started to bubble.
Once you have poured the liquid into your container, you will need to cover the top so no fruit flies try to taste your soda. I used a scrap of nylon secured with a rubber band to cover the top of my bottle, and cheesecloth would also work well. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is not air-tight. Air needs to be able to escape as the soda ferments, or your container could explode.
5. The soda will ferment best at around 75 degrees F. However, I just let mine sit on the kitchen counter, and it did just fine. Allow the brew to sit for approximately a week, but check it daily. In the first few days, it may develop a film on the top. Do not be alarmed, this is normal. Gently stir it to break up the film on top. Eventually, the mixture will begin to have a pleasant scent, and you will be able to see little bubbles rising to the top. This is carbon dioxide, and is produced as a by-product of the fermentation. Once your soda has a nice smell, and is bubbly, it is ready to drink!
6. You may notice that a layer of sediment has formed on the bottom of your container. You can either try to filter this sediment out using a damp piece of nylon (I don't ever throw out my stockings if I get a run in them, they work great for filtering), or you can gently pour off the liquid, leaving the sediment in the container. Once you have taken care of the sediment, you can wash your container and return the soda to it for refrigeration, or you can serve it right away with some ice.
Should you decide to refrigerate your soda, keep in mind that although the fermentation will be slowed, it is still occurring. This means that carbon dioxide is still being produced, so you should leave the nylon or cheesecloth on as your cover to prevent explosions.
Dandelion soda is an easy project and a great alternative to the corn-syrup filled cans at the grocery store. My kids are generally the ultimate product testers for me, and they both gave it a big thumbs-up! So, don't let those dandelions go to waste! See what you can make of them...you may be pleasantly surprised.
This post was shared on The Nourishing Gourmet.